St. John Tradewinds News

Rain or Shine, the St. John Arts Festival is Running Again for its 18th Annual Event

Dancers perform at last year's St. John Arts Festival in Franklin Powell Park. Edward Cazaubon photo.

Frank Langley, the St. John Arts Festival president, invites residents and visitors alike to celebrate the amazing spirit of the people of St. John – showcasing St. John history, tradition and culture of the people, with music, dance, and arts and crafts in the 18th annual St. John Arts Festival.

The Festival will begin Saturday, Feb. 17 for five days ending on Wednesday, Feb. 21. “All of this is made possible and with many thanks to the continued support of Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, the USVI Department of Tourism, our many sponsors and of course, to the artists and performers and the indomitable spirit of all St. Johnians,” said Langley.

Having survived Hurricane Irma, the “little park” – located straight off the ferry terminal – will again be the primary location for the festival.  Being greeted with the music, dance and arts and crafts of the Festival, visitors will certainly know that St. John’s culture and community is still thriving and vibrant.

This year’s Festival program begins with a Children’s Day on Saturday, February 17, when all the energy and exuberance of youth is displayed – including traditional steel pan band music, school choirs, and age-old Quadrille dancing. There is also a Children’s Art Show in the storefronts of various offices on the second floor of the Marketplace.

Sunday, February 18, is a lazy day, with church choirs and ladies choirs echoing the soul of the islanders, followed by colorful Quadrille dancing with its’ romantic links to days gone by.

Monday, February 19 – President’s Day – is the highlight of the five-day event, commencing with singing and rhythms going back to the roots of islanders, with the music of the island’s number one traditional “scratch band,” originating with hand-made instruments and jaunty songs, as a prelude to a fantastic show of fifteen or so richly colorful dancers and towering ‘moko jumbies,’ reviving old dances such as the Bamboula from way back in the past and the superstitions of chasing away evil spirits

Tuesday, February 20 reaches out to the music and dance from the neighboring Latin-American Caribbean islands, and in the evening, in association with the St. John Film Society, there will be the screening of the award-winning film “The Groove is Not Trivial” – a musical odyssey of the outstanding musician Alisdair Fraser, which is sure to raise the spirits of all hurricane survivors.

Wednesday, February 21, the final day, will round-off with relatively modern, but definitely Caribbean, reggae music.

Throughout the Festival, adding to and completing the exclusively Caribbean atmosphere is the ongoing exhibition of hand-made Caribbean arts and crafts, plus food and local-grown fruits and vegetables, with the exhibitors in colorful Caribbean traditional dress.

Visitors can’t miss it as they depart on the ferry, and they will be left with the memory of the invincible spirit of the people of this island.