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Food Fair Grows in Importance as Economy Sags

June 23, 2008 — Sunday was the day to see and be seen as folks from St. John, St. Thomas and points far away came together for the annual Food Fair in Cruz Bay Park, St. John.
"It's a fun time to see people," St. John resident Brion Morrisette said.
This year's food fair honored Yolanda Morton, a longtime contributor to the St. John cultural scene. Morton, who wore a red and blue plaid dress trimmed in lace and a matching head tie, suggested that everyone follow suit for next year's Food Fair.
"I'd like to see everybody in cultural wear," she said.
Agriculture Commissioner Louis Petersen Jr. said there could be no such thing as culture without agriculture. He suggested that with the economy in trouble and food and gas prices rising at an unprecedented rate, residents should grow food at home.
"Stop being passive and be active," he said.
Petersen provided an update on the Agriculture Department's efforts to develop four acres in Coral Bay for farming. Work is almost done on a greenhouse, and he said money has been appropriated to fence in the area to keep out roaming livestock and donkeys.
The department will soon install water tanks to hold 8,000 to 10,000 gallons of water.
Petersen, who at last year's Food Fair spoke about efforts to develop beekeeping on St. John, showed off bottles of grown-in-St. John honey carrying the department's Virgin Fresh label.
The afternoon also saw the crowning of Miss St. John Razzilee Oquendo and St. John Princess Ja'Leah Stephens.
Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis was on hand to offer words of welcome and some sage advice.
"If you see someone less fortunate, take a few extra dollars to buy them a plate of food," Francis said.
The food vendors along the waterfront were busy dishing up plates of whelks, lobster, conch, oxtail, and more to hungry fair-goers.
John DiRoma and his family from Meriden, Conn., were on St. Thomas for the wedding of his son. He had sampled beef and conch pates and gave them the thumbs-up.
The craft vendors gave mixed reports with some indicating business was good and others not selling much.
St. John artist Lisa Etre had a table set up to sell her prints and other works. She said that since she needed some extra cash to send her son C.J. to camp at Yellowstone National Park, she'd see how well she could do.
"It's hot, but it's fun," she said, echoing the comments of many others.
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