Avelino Samuel, honored at St. John’s Festival Food Fair on Sunday for his prowess as a woodturner, was off doing what he does best.
“He’s away teaching children for the Association of Woodturners. That is most dear to his heart,” his wife, Pamela Richards Samuel, said as hundreds of people gathered in Cruz Bay Park to sample food, shop for local wares and mix and mingle with old and new friends.
Broiling skies didn’t deter those who also turned out to see festival royalty crowned. Princess TaeZha Maduro was first to get her crown, with Junior Miss winner P’Azhae Harrigan next. Queen Kyrelle Thomas was last in line.
“Jump up and congregate,” Thomas told the audience.
The princess, junior miss and queen were flanked by royalty from years past as they made their way to the bandstand to help celebrate the event’s diamond jubilee.
Sherry Boynes Jackson, who reigned as Miss St. John in 1977 over what was then called the July 4th Celebration, had some advice for those wearing this year’s crowns.
“To me, it’s about having fun and gaining friends,” she said, adding that she is still good friends with the young women who vied with her for the title.
Vendors came from all three islands to sell their wares. Theresa Davis, dressed in traditional madras, dished up barbecue chicken and ribs as well as lobster in butter sauce. She said she made the trip to St. John from St. Croix because there is money to be made at the St. John event.
While most of the food focused on Caribbean cuisine, St. John resident Myia Powell took a different approach. Her booth was titled Down Home Girl and featured things such as collard greens, corn bread and catfish.
“I’m a southern girl. Georgia born,” she said, adding that she was transplanted to Trenton, N.J., before moving to St. John.
Several people were selling handcrafted soaps and potions.
“These are all-natural lip balms,” Laurie Damron of Amora, Essence of St. John, told customers.
Nearby, Ceclilia Andrew of St. Thomas had a soaps, candles, natural deodorant and moringa ice tea for sale.
“It’s the tree of life,” she said of the moringa tea.
St. Thomas residents Arnold van Beverhoudt and Etienne Gibbs were on hand to sign their books.
Van Beverhoudt penned “These are the Voyages,” which is a history of ships of sea, air and space named Enterprise, and “Island Boy: My Life on the Rock.”
“I sold a few. Most to visitors from the states,” van Beverhoudt said.
Gibbs is the author of “It’s My Turn to be a Hero,” a tale about growing up on St. Thomas. He said he sold a few “here and there.”
St. John artists Lisa Etre and Livy Hitchcock were busy passing out flyers touting an art exhibit at the Battery held in conjunction with Festival. It’s open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through June 30 and 7 to 10 p.m. July 4.
“There are posters and prints from five or six artists,” Hitchcock said.
Brett Cook of St. John did a brisk business spray painting colorful art on people’s faces and in one case, St. John resident Jaymi Bailey’s hair too. He was doing it in red, white and blue in honor of the United States’ participation in the World Soccer Cup.
Business was good at many booths.
“I’m here for some tasty snacks,” St. John resident Whitney Herrelson said.
Newlyweds Travis and Heidi Matzn of Moses Lake, Wash., got married Saturday at Magens Bay on St. Thomas and spent Sunday strolling Cruz Bay’s streets deciding what to eat.
“We wanted to see what the locals do,” Heidi Matzn said.
St. John resident Diana Beam was busy enjoying a plate of conch while friend Nina Hernandez of Cambridge, Mass., had mutton.
“I never had it before and wanted to try something new,” Hernandez said.
This being an election year, numerous would-be politicians and those already in office were on hand to celebrate.
“I wish everybody a fantastic Festival,” Gov. John deJongh said.