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St. John Festival Kicks Off Saturday

Put on your dancing shoes and tune up your taste buds because the month-long St. John Festival starts Saturday.
“There is a different flavor than St. Thomas,” St. John Festival and Cultural Organization chairman Leona Smith said, referring to St. Thomas Carnival.
Since its inception back in 1960, what is now called Festival was known as the July 4 Celebration. However, several years ago the name began its change to Festival. Smith said she doesn’t remember why.
The festivities begin Saturday with Pan-O-Rama. It begins at 4 p.m. in Cruz Bay Park. It was originally scheduled for May 29, but bad weather forced a postponement.
A dozen steel pan groups are lined up to participate. The Love City Pan Dragons from St. John headlines the list. The others hail from St. Thomas. They are the Ulla F. Muller Panatics, E. Benjamin Oliver Owls, Joseph Sibilly Sun Rays, Rising Stars, Pan in Motion, Charlotte Amalie Mellowhawks, Kerwin Terrace Wess Stars, Addelita Cancryn Pan Iguanas, Joseph Gomez Pan Blasters, Bertha C. Boschulte Burning Blazers, and the St. Thomas All Stars.
The Senior Variety Show will be held at 7 p.m. June 11 at Winston Wells Ballfield.
“We want to show the young people that age doesn’t count,” show chairman Jane Johannes said.
The show features seniors modeling and showcasing their talents. Johannes said a fish fry will follow.
The Festival Bike Race begins at 8 a.m. June 19 at the V.I. National Park ballfield. Further information was not available.
Judges will pick the Festival princess in a June 20 pageant. It begins at 6 p.m. at Winston Wells Ballfield. Contestants are JahNyah Dalmida, 10; Destini Gracia, 9; and Tashiya King, 9. Dalmida and Gracia live on St. John. King is a St. Thomas resident.
The queen will be selected June 26 in a pageant that begins at 8 p.m. at Winston Wells Ballfield. Contestants are JahVena Nisbett, 20; Shante Monsanto-Weeks, 17; Abigail Hyndman, 20; and Nanyamka Cagen, 18. Nisbett, Monsanto-Weeks and Hyndman live on St. Thomas. Cagan is a St. John resident.
Food Fair and the coronation of the queen will be held at 1 p.m. June 27 in Cruz Bay Park. The Food Fair will honor Emily Bratton.
“She’s been a participant for a long time,” Smith said, adding that Bratton will be honored for her efforts in arts and crafts.
Boat races will be held at 3 p.m. June 27 in Cruz Bay Harbor.
“It’s a day of watersports and to get away from the heat,” organizer Glenville “Slim” Ross said.
He expects six classes of boats—ranging from personal water craft to boats with engines in the 30- to 40-horsepower category to those with large engines suitable for offshore travel. Registration runs $50 to $150 depending on the size of the boat.
This year Ross hopes to include kayak class.
The Festival Village opens at 7 p.m. June 30 in the parking lot located across from the Cruz Bay post office. It will honor Selwyn Powell.
“He’s been on the committee for donkey years,” Johannes said, explaining why the committee selected Powell.
According to Johannes, Powell is generous with his time and services.
July 3 is the date for Cultural/Emancipation Day. It’s slated to begin at 2 p.m. in Cruz Bay Park and run until the evening hours.
“It’s all about culture,” organizer Alecia M. Wells said.
Cultural/Emancipation Day includes a reenactment of the 1848 emancipation on St. Croix, quadrille dancing, performances by groups like the Love City Leapers jump rope team and Echo People. Wells is also planning a torchlight parade through the streets of Cruz Bay once the sun sets. Additionally, food and craft vendors sell their wares.
J’ouvert begins at 4 p.m. July 5 at the park ballfield.
The parade kicks off at 11 a.m. July 5 at the park ballfield and wends its way through the streets of Cruz Bay. Chester “Mighty Groover” Brady is the parade marshal.
“He’s always in the parade with his solo entry,” Smith said, explaining why the committee picked Brady to serve as parade marshal.
Festival wraps up with fireworks over Cruz Bay Harbor. It starts at 9 p.m. July 5.
Tickets to the Senior Variety Show and the princess and queen pageants are available at Chelsea Drug Store and W&W Fast Food on St. John. On St. Thomas, buy tickets at V.I. Bridal and Tuxedo in Tutu Park Mall and International Records and Tapes. Tickets are also available at the door. Other events are free.

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