July 3, 2002 – St. John culture comes in many forms, one of them a gathering of vendors in Cruz Bay Park on Wednesday for the island's St. John Festival Cultural Day.
The park was packed with people selling everything from upscale hats and jewelry to made-in-the-islands handicrafts.
"But I haven't made a dime for the day," lamented St. Thomas resident Dorothy James. She had set up shop with her hand-made bandana wear in a rainbow of hues — hats, clothes, bags and housewares all made out of bandanas.
Nearby, Kushiba, an artist who uses just that name, had handcrafted shak-shaks — decorated percussion instruments made from flamboyant seed pods — and coconut bird feeders, purses made of locust fruits, and miniature paintings of Virgin Islands scenes. Business was also slow for Kushiba.
By contrast, St. John resident Kiko Posada said people were quick to buy his pricey hats and jewelry. He said most of his customers were locals rather than tourists. "This has been a local people's carnival," he said.
Indeed, most of those strolling through the park were residents, many of them enjoying the Emancipation Day holiday. It was a work day for some, though. "We're on our lunch break," said St. John resident Sharon Browne, who was with her boss, Theodore Joseph, checking out Hezekiah Green's CD selection. They work at the Caneel Bay shipyard in Cruz Bay.
Sales were slow for 3nita Hodge, too, but that didn't keep her from having a good day. Standing in front of her table with her hips swaying to music by the St. Croix scratch band Stanley and the 10 Sleepless Knights, she commented, "Life is a good time 'cause I'm alive."
Although the day was mainly focused on arts and crafts, a brief ceremony was held at the bandstand. "Today is a celebration of 154 years of freedom," master of ceremonies Alecia M. Wells said. She noted that while the Fourth of July symbolizes freedom for the United States, Emancipation Day commemorates freedom from slavery for Virgin Islanders.
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