The sounds of sweet steel pan music can be heard echoing from the youth center’s bright red doors across from the Cruz Bay fire station every Friday and Saturday afternoon.
But after months of bi-weekly practice, the Love City Pan Dragons will make themselves heard across the territory as they travel to St. Croix this weekend for the 38th Annual Agrifest.
The group of 37 — ranging in age from 7 to 17 — was asked to play at the largest agricultural exposition in the territory, which attracts farmers, craftsman and fairgoers from throughout the Virgin Islands and Caribbean.
“They have been practicing real hard,” said Lottie O’Neal, Love City Pan Dragon’s treasurer and board member. “This is our fourth year going to the agricultural fair on St. Croix to play, and the kids look forward to it every year.”
Agrifest will take place from February 14 to 16 at the Rudolph Shulterbrandt Agricultural Complex in Estate Lower Love, St. Croix. The Pan Dragons will play on the middle stage on Saturday, February 14, from 12 to 2:30 p.m., and again on Monday, February 16, from 9 to 11 a.m. in the big tent.
The pan dragons will play the National Anthem, the Virgin Islands March as well as other selections of the band’s choice, explained O’Neal.
The steel pan orchestra hosts fundraisers year-round for trips such as this, O’Neal added.
“They work so hard all year round, so it is good to give them a trip,” she said. “They have to play, but it is also a lot of fun for them.”
While the Pan Dragons are excited and honored to play at the agricultural and food fair, it is more than just a gig.
“The fair is all about culture — the kids learn a lot about their culture on this trip,” O’Neal said. “We have a lot of new kids in the band this year and some have never been to St. Croix so they are really excited about it.”
“It’s important for them to be able to see all of the Virgin Islands and we take them on a tour to show them around St. Croix,” she said.
Love City Pan Dragons have been in existence for more than a decade, creating rich sounds with their seven-section band featuring instruments ranging from tenor to base. The youth steel orchestra consists of students who live on St. John and attend public and private schools on both St. John and St. Thomas.
The band will depart St. John on Friday, February 13, and return on Monday, February 16, O’Neal explained.
Native Sun ferry has been chartered to transport the St. John group to and from St. Croix.
“If anyone on St. John wants to come along, they can join us,” O’Neal said.
The Pan Dragons are selling ferry tickets in advance at Courtesy Car Rental, or people can purchase tickets from the boat leaving from Cruz Bay bulkhead at noon on Friday, February 13. Tickets cost $80 round-trip and $65 one-way for adults, and $65 round-trip and $50 one-way for children.