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HomeNewsArchivesALL'S FAIR FOR PRODUCE, FOOD AND MUCH MORE

ALL'S FAIR FOR PRODUCE, FOOD AND MUCH MORE

Nov. 18, 2001 – Table after table bearing lush green plants, edible goodies and all manner of arts and crafts were ample enticements for visitors to the St. Thomas-St. John Agriculture and Food Fair this weekend on the grounds of the Reichhold Center for the Arts.
"We've had a steady crowd of people right through the weekend, both locals and visitors," said Louis Petersen, district supervisor for the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service and fair committee member. The extension service is one of many agencies that help organize the fair each year.
The event, open to the general public on Saturday and Sunday, kicked off on Friday for the first time this year with visits by pupils from several schools and exhibitions by the youngsters. "We had over 700 kids, and the displays were wonderful," Carlos Robles of the Cooperative Extension Service said.
Kirwin Terrace Elementary won first place by showcasing professions within agriculture. There was a tie for second place — Seventh-Day Adventist School's display of the vegetarian food guide pyramid and Dober Elementary's presentation of medicinal herbs and their uses. E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary took third place with a display of livestock and products made from animals, while honorable mention went to Joseph Gomez Elementary for a sampling of nutritious, delicious foods.
On Saturday and Sunday, those looking for truly fresh produce found cucumbers, avocado, greens, peppers, sugar cane, eggplant and a variety of teas and culinary seasonings including lemon grass, basil and thyme. In addition, beekeepers had honey for sale.
A profusion of poinsettias offered by De Plant Man, Paul Questel, announced the coming holiday season. Other plant sellers offered a range of edible-tree saplings such as cashew, guava, mango, sugar apple and lime.
Livestock — sheep, goats, pigs and peacocks, especially — were a hit with young children, who enjoyed the informal zoo.
Food booths featured Virgin Islands cuisine — fish and polenta-like fungi, chicken and rice, fried fish and johnnycakes, red pea soup, potato stuffing, macaroni and cheese, garden salad and fruit-based drinks. "Crab and rice, and sweet potato pudding — those were the most popular items," said Sheryl Penn, an owner of the Diamond Barrel Restaurant, who participated in the fair. "People seem to be looking for something different, something they don't normally eat," she added.
"In recent years, we've had more vegetarian items, like tofu-based dishes and veggie burgers," Robles said. This year's offerings attractive to health-conscious fairgoers included vegetarian lasagna, veggie burgers, nut loaves, peanut punch and naturally sweetened baked goods.
In the arts and crafts area, whisk brooms, calabash bowls, dolls, island fragrances and tropical fruit candles were among the items for sale. "I've been coming to the fair now for several years," said Gwendolyn Harley, who makes cultural dolls from natural materials such as mango seeds and cashews as well as fabric dolls depicting bamboula and quadrille dancers.
There also were educational displays on solar power, composting and preserving rainwater, and entertainment throughout the weekend that included cultural dancing and steelpan music.
Sunday afternoon brought the judging of the largest turkey, best sweetbread and best maubi.
Joseph Etien won first place in the turkey contest with a great gobbler that tipped the scale at 25 pounds. Charles Leonard had the first runner-up, a 21-pound bird.
Ellen Mulraine's baked confection with Christmas decorations captured first prize for sweetbreads. "I've entered this contest every year since it started, and won the first one, too," she said. Her recipe was her late mother's, but "I've added my own touches over the years," she said. "I love baking, and take orders to make 40 to 50 sweet bread during the holidays." Barbara Mark won second place and Audrey Henry took third.
Tony Hendrickson, representing the Nothing But Veggie restaurant, won the maubi competition. "I feel our maubi is excellent and told our boss, Francie Richardson, that I thought it should be part of the competition," she said. The secret? "All fresh ingredients, nothing but fresh." The idea of an agriculture fair for St. Thomas-St. John is relatively new. There had long been one on St. Croix — which by law is the official fair for farmers in the territory — when plans for an event to showcase crops grown on St. Thomas and St. John took root in 1980. It was the idea of farmers including Edith Quetel Bryan and the late Sylvie Berry, along with John Bernier, then assistant Agriculture commissioner.
That first fair was small scale and held in downtown Charlotte Amalie at Market Square. But success brought growth, and the next year it was moved to the parking lot of the old field house on the UVI campus.
"By the second year, the fair was well on its ways to becoming an annual event and one that locals and visitors alike look forward to attending," Robles said. The first fairs were in March, but that was a dry time of the year. "We moved it to November because there's more rainfall … and it's also a time where people are looking to stock up for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays," he explained.
"The fair keeps getting bigger and bigger every year," Robles said. "For example, plant vendors were up from 8 to 15, arts and crafts went from 7 to 20 and we've stabilized food vendors at 21." The only category that witnessed a decrease was crop farmers. This year, "We only had three, and I'm not sure why," he said.

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Nov. 18, 2001 - Table after table bearing lush green plants, edible goodies and all manner of arts and crafts were ample enticements for visitors to the St. Thomas-St. John Agriculture and Food Fair this weekend on the grounds of the Reichhold Center for the Arts.
"We've had a steady crowd of people right through the weekend, both locals and visitors," said Louis Petersen, district supervisor for the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service and fair committee member. The extension service is one of many agencies that help organize the fair each year.
The event, open to the general public on Saturday and Sunday, kicked off on Friday for the first time this year with visits by pupils from several schools and exhibitions by the youngsters. "We had over 700 kids, and the displays were wonderful," Carlos Robles of the Cooperative Extension Service said.
Kirwin Terrace Elementary won first place by showcasing professions within agriculture. There was a tie for second place -- Seventh-Day Adventist School's display of the vegetarian food guide pyramid and Dober Elementary's presentation of medicinal herbs and their uses. E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary took third place with a display of livestock and products made from animals, while honorable mention went to Joseph Gomez Elementary for a sampling of nutritious, delicious foods.
On Saturday and Sunday, those looking for truly fresh produce found cucumbers, avocado, greens, peppers, sugar cane, eggplant and a variety of teas and culinary seasonings including lemon grass, basil and thyme. In addition, beekeepers had honey for sale.
A profusion of poinsettias offered by De Plant Man, Paul Questel, announced the coming holiday season. Other plant sellers offered a range of edible-tree saplings such as cashew, guava, mango, sugar apple and lime.
Livestock -- sheep, goats, pigs and peacocks, especially -- were a hit with young children, who enjoyed the informal zoo.
Food booths featured Virgin Islands cuisine -- fish and polenta-like fungi, chicken and rice, fried fish and johnnycakes, red pea soup, potato stuffing, macaroni and cheese, garden salad and fruit-based drinks. "Crab and rice, and sweet potato pudding -- those were the most popular items," said Sheryl Penn, an owner of the Diamond Barrel Restaurant, who participated in the fair. "People seem to be looking for something different, something they don't normally eat," she added.
"In recent years, we've had more vegetarian items, like tofu-based dishes and veggie burgers," Robles said. This year's offerings attractive to health-conscious fairgoers included vegetarian lasagna, veggie burgers, nut loaves, peanut punch and naturally sweetened baked goods.
In the arts and crafts area, whisk brooms, calabash bowls, dolls, island fragrances and tropical fruit candles were among the items for sale. "I've been coming to the fair now for several years," said Gwendolyn Harley, who makes cultural dolls from natural materials such as mango seeds and cashews as well as fabric dolls depicting bamboula and quadrille dancers.
There also were educational displays on solar power, composting and preserving rainwater, and entertainment throughout the weekend that included cultural dancing and steelpan music.
Sunday afternoon brought the judging of the largest turkey, best sweetbread and best maubi.
Joseph Etien won first place in the turkey contest with a great gobbler that tipped the scale at 25 pounds. Charles Leonard had the first runner-up, a 21-pound bird.
Ellen Mulraine's baked confection with Christmas decorations captured first prize for sweetbreads. "I've entered this contest every year since it started, and won the first one, too," she said. Her recipe was her late mother's, but "I've added my own touches over the years," she said. "I love baking, and take orders to make 40 to 50 sweet bread during the holidays." Barbara Mark won second place and Audrey Henry took third.
Tony Hendrickson, representing the Nothing But Veggie restaurant, won the maubi competition. "I feel our maubi is excellent and told our boss, Francie Richardson, that I thought it should be part of the competition," she said. The secret? "All fresh ingredients, nothing but fresh." The idea of an agriculture fair for St. Thomas-St. John is relatively new. There had long been one on St. Croix -- which by law is the official fair for farmers in the territory -- when plans for an event to showcase crops grown on St. Thomas and St. John took root in 1980. It was the idea of farmers including Edith Quetel Bryan and the late Sylvie Berry, along with John Bernier, then assistant Agriculture commissioner.
That first fair was small scale and held in downtown Charlotte Amalie at Market Square. But success brought growth, and the next year it was moved to the parking lot of the old field house on the UVI campus.
"By the second year, the fair was well on its ways to becoming an annual event and one that locals and visitors alike look forward to attending," Robles said. The first fairs were in March, but that was a dry time of the year. "We moved it to November because there's more rainfall ... and it's also a time where people are looking to stock up for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays," he explained.
"The fair keeps getting bigger and bigger every year," Robles said. "For example, plant vendors were up from 8 to 15, arts and crafts went from 7 to 20 and we've stabilized food vendors at 21." The only category that witnessed a decrease was crop farmers. This year, "We only had three, and I'm not sure why," he said.