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HomeNewsLocal news51st Agrifest Welcomes a Large Crowd

51st Agrifest Welcomes a Large Crowd

The first-day crowds at the 51st Agriculture and Food Fair, Saturday. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

People arrived early Saturday for the opening of the 51st Agriculture and Food Fair and by 1 p.m. the crowd had swelled so that the food pavilion was packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder to buy lunch.

During the opening ceremony, agricultural and cultural leaders were honored for their work and several schools were lauded for their science projects. The festival is also known as Agrifest and the Ag Fair.

The Schulterbrandt Fairgrounds were renamed for the week to honor Willard John, former teacher, principal, and well-known for keeping the Mocko Jumbie dancing tradition alive. 

The farmer’s market was named in honor of Edna Santiago a long-time grower who has displayed at Agrifest since 1997. 

The livestock pavilion was named in honor of Wendell L Cox who raises a variety of poultry and has mentored and supported other farmer startups.  

The food pavilion was dedicated to Emily Hanson, a third-generation cook, famous for her salmon balls. 

The youth exhibit winners were the Alfredo Andrews School. The runner-up was St. Croix Central High School and an honorable mention went to Seventh Day Adventist.

Alfredo Andrews School won the youth exhibit award at the 51st Agrifest. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

The livestock farmer of the year is Allan Vanterpool who has raised pigs, bull calves, goats, and sheep at his Lower Love farm for more than 35 years.

Mr. and Mrs. Artherly Williams were honored as the crop farmers of the year. They have grown everything from cabbage and passion fruit to celery and tomatoes for the last 18 years.

There was a new award this year for beekeepers and well-known Roniel Allembert, a second-generation beekeeper, was honored. He is raising 320 hives and makes the popular wildflower honey that is sold internationally. 

During the ceremony, Gov. Albert Bryan, Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett, David Hall, president of the University of the Virgin Islands, Sen. Novelle Francis and Elizabeth Watley, acting Commissioner of Tourism welcomed the crowd and then cut a ribbon to signal the official opening. 

Meanwhile, during the ceremony, vendors set up their booths to sell clothing, jewelry, tee shirts, leather goods, baskets, fast food, homemade fruit drinks, ice, and ice cream. 

At the same time, farmers set up their displays of vegetables, fruits, and plants in the Edna Santiago Pavilion.

By lunchtime, mouth-watering odors wafted from the food pavilion. Inside, tables overflowed with fancy cakes, pastries, cooked pork, chicken, fish with all the side dishes. 

Sen. Diane Capehart stood in a long line waiting to order food from one of her favorite cooks. 

The Crucian Cake Queen, Renita Johannes slices a piece of cake for a customer. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

“So this is one of my favorite places to come. Angela’s Corner, Alda, the Moravian Church, Hansen and Miss Cutie outside. I wish I could eat at all of them. And of course, getting all of the desserts,” she said.

Congresswoman Plaskett was seen in a food line outside and while waiting for her order, told the Source she makes it to the Ag Fair, every year. 

“I can’t say what I like best. But I like the ability for all of us, of all ages, to come together on the Agriculture Fairgrounds. It’s not just expressions of agriculture and food, but expressions of culture as well. It’s an opportunity for people to meet each other – people you haven’t seen in a long time, and also to stock up on our plants and vegetables for the upcoming year. To pay homage to our livestock farmers and crop farmers who do so much here in the territory,” she said. 

Animals pens and educational tents were ready to open at 10 a.m. on the north side of the Fairgrounds. A petting zoo with chicks and bunnies, and a Pet Place with puppies added to the cacophony of dozens of parakeets under the enclosure. Outside, cows, goats, and horses stood placidly waiting for their next meal.

Tucked into the mango orchard, several non-profits set out displays involving the sea and its inhabitants. The St. Croix Environmental Association and World Ocean School had turtle and sailing displays. The Children’s Museum assembled tables and tents for children to learn about the sea, by sorting sea shells, cleaning debris from the ocean (a plastic pool), and meeting live sea stars and slugs. There was an artist’s corner where children painted wood turtles and other clay sea creatures. There were several coral mounds, made by 3-D printers, with sea fans and other underwater plants. 

Zena Williams holds a serpent sea star at the Children’s Museum Exhibit. (Source photo by Susan Ellis)

Throughout the day, there was live music, including the Superior Court Rising Stars and Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights.

The festival continues Sunday and Monday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults, seniors $5, and children $4.

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