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HomeNewsArchivesA CELEBRATION OF COOKING, CRAFTS, AND CROWNINGS

A CELEBRATION OF COOKING, CRAFTS, AND CROWNINGS

June 22, 2003 – After several years of staying at home during July 4th Celebration festivities, Penny Ramsdell and her daughter, Amy, decided to get involved.
"This year we're right in the middle," Amy Ramsdell said, as she and her mother offered their hand-painted canvas bags, jewelry and T-shirts for sale at Sunday's annual Food Fair.
The Ramsdells were among several dozen people who set up tables in Cruz Bay Park.
St. Croix resident Theresa Davis drew attention with her lavish display of island fresh and stewed fruits and a huge Vienna cake with local fruits between the layers. She said she would be at her table through the Fourth of July for folks who want to sample her wares.
St. John resident Anetha Barton said she was on hand with her handmade dolls, coconut bird feeders and coal pots to keep the island's culture alive. "Our culture is dying," she said.
Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd agreed. With few exceptions, he said, only the older generation has a commitment to preserving St. John's culture.
As has been the case for several years, fairgoers found more crafts than food among the offerings. But some of St. John's best cooks were on hand with their wares. One of them, Marcy George, had set up shop near the bandstand to sell her whelks, conchs, veggie lasagna and barbecued chicken. "I'm surprised people are buying soup, seeing how hot it is," George said.
Indeed, the Caribbean sun broiled overhead as residents and visitors came out to honor Ina Forbes, a longtime St. John resident who in her younger years often had a booth during the July 4th Celebration. The Tortola native worked as a cook and housekeeper at Caneel Bay Resort, then as a domestic worker and dietary aide in New York; in 1974 she returned to St. John to do another stint at Caneel Bay.
Forbes "may not have been born on St. John, but she is a true St. Johnian," Julien Harley, island administrator, said.
Accepting flowers from mistress of ceremonies Alecia M. Wells, Forbes thanked the July 4th Celebration Committee for honoring her.
The afternoon also saw the crowing of the 2003 Miss St. John, Saadia Newsome, chosen Saturday night at the annual Queen Show, and of the celebration's junior royalty, Princess Krystal Anthony and Prince Sylvester Anthony Jr.
Newsome, also accepting a floral bouquet as last year's queen, Hailey Kalahni Cagan, placed the crown on her head, wore a strapless white gown sprinkled with seed pearls on the bodice and hem.
The park bandstand, scene of the formal part of the festivities, was bedecked in green fringe and decorated with straw hats of many colors. Instead of the traditional ribbon, a garland of flowers stretched across the stairs. Committee members and dignitaries wore floral leis in many colors.
The crowd appeared smaller than in previous years. Harley blamed it on horse racing on St. Thomas on Sunday afternoon, which he said drew people away. However, those who were present, including the vendors, appeared to have a good time.
"It's a social day in the park," said Jill Kemp, one of several hot sauce vendors.
Debra Seftel, a Montville, New Jersey, resident vacationing on Tortola, came over to St. John for the day with her family and happened on the Food Fair. "I told the kids it was just for us," she said, laughing as her three children gathered around.

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