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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsThe 52nd Agriculture and Food Fair Celebrates Food, Family and Fun

The 52nd Agriculture and Food Fair Celebrates Food, Family and Fun

Melba Williams Pavilion, named in her honor, welcomes crowds of hungry people. (Source photo by Diana Dias)

As you enter the fairgrounds for the 52nd Agriculture and Food Fair, the first gust of the sweet aroma is a great indication of a day of good food, family, and fun. Thousands of people and their families came out in fashion to celebrate on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

This year’s theme, “Agriculture: Our Future and So Much More for 2024,” was named in honor of Andy C. Williams, a longtime employee and contributor to the Agriculture and Food Fair. His family was present at the opening ceremony to accept his award in his honor.

Also, at the opening ceremony, in his welcoming remarks, Louis E. Peterson Jr., commissioner of the V.I. Agriculture Department, said, “This is where, for three days, you can witness a showcase of agriculture and culture in the territory. This is where you see the potential of what we can do on a larger scale year-round.”

The Agriculture Fair weekend is a time when the best is put out on display. Over at the Melba Williams Pavilion, named in her honor, delicious plates of food like conch in butter sauce, fish and fungi, pates, salmon balls, chicken and johnny cake, stews, tamarind balls, sugar cakes, just to name a few were served with all the trimmings. Not to forget to mention the local drinks of lemonade, fruit punch, passion fruit and tamarind. Long lines of people patiently waited to get their fix from their favorite food vendors.

Outside the exit of the building, live music and other performances took place in the performance square. Quadrille performers, “We Deh Yah Cultural Dancers,” discussed the women’s head ties and what it meant for dancers to have one to four points at the tip of their hats. For example, if a female dancer has four points, it signifies the dancer was divorced or widowed and looking.

We Deh Yah Cultural Dancers perform for a crowd at the Agriculture Fairgrounds. (Source photo by Diana Dias)

Meanwhile, the “Guardians of Culture” moko jumbie dancers made their way through the fair, taking a moment to take pictures with visitors and groove to the sounds of music playing.

Guardians of Culture moko jumbie performs for a crowd while other moko jumbies rest. (Source photo by Diana Dias)

At the opening ceremony, V.I., Delegate to Congress Stacey Plasket, said, “Farming is a business; farmers are not only here to feed you but to make a profit. That supports all of us. That brings young people into this. We have to help them be able to treat their farms as a business. To not be able to just pay themselves, but workers as well to advance farming.”  The Delegate also mentioned the grants that support farming, such as food security programs, reviving the tropical/subtropical agricultural research program, and establishing a renewable energy grant program.

At the Livestock Pavilion, which was named in honor of the 4-H Team Ambassadors, children could be seen feeding, holding, and petting rabbits and baby chicks while other children were seen looking at the larger animals on the outskirts of the pavilion. Children were also entertained with face painting, the V.I. National Guard had a bounce house, Jungle James had laser tag, and the Children’s Museum had fun activities for the children.

Children look at livestock. (Source photo by Diana Dias)

African dancers performed and provided free classes over at the V.I. Education Department’s Division of State Office of Curriculum and Instruction. The Health Department gave free health screenings, and other government agencies provided information and free giveaways.

Vendors selling jewelry, clothing, fabric, purses, and other items placed their items on display as patrons purchased their favorite V.I. local brands.

Awards were given to the Livestock Farmer of the Year who went to Charles Burton, the Crop Farmer of the Year went to Francisco Tirado and the Beekeeper of the Year went to Stephen Charles.

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. said earlier at the opening ceremony, “As West Indian people we underestimate ourselves about what we think. We are doing all these things, but we do not talk about it. We invented all these stuff in the West Indies because we had no choice.”

“Sustainability is up to all of us in agriculture. We each need to find the farmer in ourselves. I could tell you that 90 percent of this room has planted a seed, made a slit, made a cutting, replanted something. It was just a part of our nature. Take a little time, teach it to your kid, let’s expand agriculture. Not by supporting the farmers alone but supporting our own gardens and growing our own green spaces so that the Virgin Islands can truly be a sustainable and beautiful place to live,” he said.

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