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Cruz Bay
Wednesday, April 17, 2024


June 24, 2001 – Cruz Bay Park was teeming with local vendors, residents and visitors as the St. John Festival Food Fair and Queen Coronation got under way Sunday afternoon.
From early in the morning, food and craft vendors busily set up stalls in the park and along the waterfront in preparation for the annual extravaganza. There were at least 30 craft exhibits.
Al Smith, owner of Big Al's Woodworks, said he was ready for business at 9 a.m. and he was looking forward to a good fair. Smith, a native St. Johnian, is widely known for his hand-crafted wood clocks and costume clock designs.
"It's good advertising, and I see a lot of local customers," John Baldwin said of his Frames of Mind display titled "Frame-Ology." Baldwin said the Cruz Bay frame shop and art gallery has been participating in the fair for five years.
Esther Frett, owner of House of Dolls in Cruz Bay, had her distinctive hand-made island dolls on display. "I meet new people, and my dolls are very popular," she said.
Theresa Davis came over from St. Croix to sell local fruits. "I come here every year, and every year it gets better," she said, promoting one of her mangoes as "sweet, sweet, sweet."
Deborah Quade, a Water Island resident and owner of Island Feet, was selling toe rings and hand-made Egyptian pillow cases. "This is my first time at the St. John Food Fair, and I'm loving it," she said, adding that her pillow covers were designed by an Egyptian artist, Saad Ali, who was featured in a recent New York Times article.
Award-wining cultural doll maker Gwendolyn Harley was beaming at her array of dolls representing aspects of Virgin Islands history and culture. "Each doll's costume is historically detailed, right down to the lace-edged pentalets and hand-woven straw hats," she said. "There are market ladies, quadrille dancers, bamboula dancers, Frenchmen and ladies among my collection." She also displayed the stuffed iguanas, mongooses, and men on donkeys that she makes.
Bryant Sells from Close Reach Import displayed woodworking craft designs made of teak, mahogany, pine, cedar and lignum vitae, also known because of its strength as iron wood.
Along the waterfront adjacent to the dock, about a dozen food vendors set out their wares to nourish and tantalize. Their offerings included such local delights as johnny cakes, pates, chicken legs, rice and peas, stuffing and, to wash it all down, maubi, ginger beer, bush tea, punch and, of course, rum and Coke.
At 1 p.m. the Queen Coronation began, with Alecia Wells as mistress of ceremonies. Suzette Kelly, the 2000 Festival queen, sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the "Virgin Islands March" a capella before passing the crown to Saturday night's show winner, Catikawa Richardson. The coronation of the festival princess will take place later, as the princess show was moved up to next Thursday because of illness of one of the competitors.
As part of the concurrent opening of the Food Fair, Agriculture Commissioner Henry Schuster encouraged the audience to continue growing — and eating — local foodstuffs.
This year the Food Fair is dedicated to Gwendolyn Douglas, a native of Tortola, who was honored by the St. John Festival Committee for her long involvement in the culinary arts. Now retired, Douglas was recognized for her many years of work at the Guy Benjamin and Julius E. Sprauve Schools and for her community involvement.
Harry Daniel, representing the Delegate Donna Christian Christensen, presented Douglas with a congressional resolution entered into the Congressional Record acknowledging her years of service on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull welcomed festival participants and wished everyone a joyous event.
Following a music by the Love City Pan Dragons youth steelpan ensemble, Queen Catikawa joined the governor and Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd in cutting the ribbon officially opening the Food Fair.
Click here for the full St. John Festival schedule.

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