Day campers, seniors, tourists and community members enjoyed cultural displays and cool breezes Wednesday at a fair entitled, “Arts of the Ages,” sponsored by the Virgin Islands National Park.
Held at the Annaberg sugar mills ruins, the fair was planned on short notice to fit the schedules of local day camps and senior outings.
“Whoever I asked to come, said they would come,” said organizer Golda Hermon, a VINP guide.
The Sahara Dust cleared from the sky just in time for fairgoers to admire the stunning view of Mary Creek, Tortola, and the Sir Francis Drake Channel. A steady stream of visitors sought out shade from the brilliant midday sun under tents erected for the event.
Jennifer Williams fried up johnny cake and handed out freshly made dumb bread and cheese.
Delroy “Ital” Anthony was on hand to explain the use of different medicinal plants and traditional hand-made items such as baskets, fish pots and even a “kilivan.”
A kilivan is a bird trap shaped like a pyramid that’s made of twigs and twine. A bird would trip the trap by touching a thin thread, and “If you found only feathers in the trap, mongoose got there first!” said Anthony.
Anthony explained how, when he was young, he and other boys would use a kilivan to trap thrushies and ground doves for food.
“Thrushie meat is tougher. Ground dove is more tender. You season it just like fish,” he said.
Fairgoers had the opportunity to listen to original calypso tunes by Chester “The Mighty Groover” Brady and to conscious reggae songs sung by Haile Israel.
Bamboula dancer Allegra Christopher handed out multicolored scarves to seniors from St. John and St. Thomas. With a little encouragement, they showed they could still step and roll while drummers Keith Brown, Michael George, and Ital Anthony provided an irresistible Afro-Caribbean beat.
Christopher is the daughter of MaryAnn Christopher, who taught the troupe of young dancers from the Joseph Gomez School and later founded the Macislyn Bamboula Dance Company.
“Bamboula is really a bunch of dances from West Africa,” she said. “The dances you see in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands are from Guinea, Senegal, and the Congo. The enslaved came over from Africa and intertwined with indigenous people and their dances. There are different versions in St. Lucia, Cuba, Dominica – all over the Caribbean.”
Khalifah Powell, a senior at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, handed out cups of fruit punch. As one of eight teenagers working with the National Park Service’s Youth Conservation Corps, she’s been clearing trails this summer and getting training in CPR, firefighting techniques, and boat-handling skills. Her favorite part? “Learning about sea turtles. I want to be a marine biologist,” she said.
Children who attended from the John’s Folly Learning Institute’s summer camp carried with them the calabashes they had carved over the summer.
The Annaberg ruins are often used by the National Park for cultural demonstrations, but this past year Hurricane Irma put a halt to most events. The park has proposed 22 regular programs for the upcoming year.
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