March 5, 2006 — Volunteers began setting up tents as early as 6 a.m., but planning for this year's Afternoon on the Green actually began in November, Gail Steele, chairwoman of UVI's Afternoon on the Green Committee said Sunday.
Wearing a bright green shirt and a smile despite the sticky afternoon heat, Steele said the event is organized in November, and students are encouraged to talk to their families about donating dishes over the winter break. "Everything is usually pulled together by January or February," Steele said. "However, getting the food is a continuing process, and while we ask the students to help out, we were also able to get some local restaurants to donate dishes for us. Since this event is also a fund-raiser for the college, we try to defray some of the costs by getting donations."
Steele also said the event is strictly volunteer based and pointed out several individuals in decorative green-and-white T-shirts roaming the grounds of the Herman E. Moore Golf Course around noon. To protect themselves from the sun, many also wore hats, but shared Steele's hearty smile as they pitched in to sell tickets, set up the kids' area and serve food.
And what a selection of food there was – under a billowing white tent at the end of the course were several tables bursting with traditional West Indian dishes such as kallaloo, rice and beans, curry and souse, along with vegetarian goodies, cakes and breads. Some dishes also put a new spin on old favorites, such as "Stephanie's You Leave It, You Grieve It, Turkey Lasagna," or delicious banana bread with cream cheese frosting.
"Everything – including native drinks such as ginger beer and maube – cost just $2 dollars," UVI President LaVerne Ragster announced as residents were milling around. "So forget about your diet and satisfy your palette with something different."
While Ragster spoke, small groups gathered around the tent to discuss their recipes and share unique tips for next year. "In my dish, for example, I use chicken bouillon cubes mixed with blended Spanish spices," Anson Larcheveaux, a firefighter with the Lima Company, said of his famous chicken and rice – a two-time consecutive winner at the event. "I'm going for my third win this year," he added while calling his buddies Arthur Raymo III and Selwin Gumbs to take part in the conversation.
Raymo, a fellow firefighter who received many compliments for his Firehouse Salmon, gave Larcheveaux some stiff competition, as his dish sold out in under an hour. When asked what his secret ingredient is, Raymo laughed and said, "That's just it – it's a secret. You'll just have to wait until next year to have another taste."
Apart from the food, there were many other activities to engage the hundreds of residents attending this year's event, including a ball pit and crafts station for the children, and dancing music provided by The Superior Court Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra.
On another side of the course, booths were also set up by many representatives of UVI's various departments to show both students and parents some of the courses, and new initiatives, offered by the school.
"This is one of the main reasons we decided to have the fair," Steele said. "It's a way for us to promote the college while bringing the community together for a fun event. That's why we decided to make this year's theme 'Food, Fun – An Educational Mix On the Green for 2006.'"
Booth representatives were also accepting student applications on site and were collecting suggestions for new classes from passersby. "Some people have been asking us to give a course for nurse certification and massage therapy classes," Mindy D'Orazio, an employee at UVI's center for Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning, said. "We've also been asked to do some more classes for the policemen; last year we did a Spanish course for them, and they loved it, so we hope to continue that as well."
Other booths, such as the one set up by UVI's Marine Sciences Division, were more interactive and offered everything from a touch pool for kids to textbooks for prospective students to leaf through. The touch pool – a blue, plastic wading pool filled with sand – was the heavy favorite, however, as children of all ages gathered around to play with the hermit crabs lining the edges. "Look," Imani Benjamin, 9, said to his parents as he proudly held a wriggling crab between his thumb and forefinger. "It won't bite – it likes me."
Many of the older folks attending the event were content to sit in the shade of one of the course's many trees, and some were also seen dancing to lively calypso tunes, while holding a grandchild or nephew. "It really is wonderful," Steele said as the afternoon came to a close. "The Afternoon on the Green has become one of the most highly anticipated events in this community, and we're very proud of the job we've done."
All money collected at the event will go toward scholarships for UVI students.
Sponsors include the West Indian Co. Ltd., Bellows International, St. Thomas Dairies, Kids Entertainment Company, and Premier Wine and Spirits Ltd.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.