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Christmas Swings at Tillett Gardens Festival

Dec. 4, 2004 – Christmas season was in full swing at Tillett Gardens Saturday afternoon, and, with only two weekends left before Santa comes, the arts and crafts festival arrived not a moment too soon.
The event was a smorgasbord of handmade crafts and fine art with something for everyone. Whether shoppers came looking for that perfect island photograph, or some fanciful fudge with an unexpectedly spicy secret ingredient, it was all right there in the garden.
Cheryl Miller, creator of the "Cheryl's Taste of Paradise" line of gourmet accoutrements, was on hand offering passersby samples of her yummy island treats. Miller is probably best known for her spicy pepper sauces, but she hasn't stopped to rest on her laurels.
"This year I've introduced a line of specialty teas," she said, offering up a box where scents of ambrosia, mango, lemon grass and hibiscus mixed together for an intoxicating potpourri.
Hilda Lewis Joyce, whom some may know from her 35 years as a business educator and administrator at the University of the Virgin Islands, has given up her blackboard and chalk in favor of charcoal drawings and homespun stories. Joyce said she was struck by the artistic bug a mere four years ago, but now says, "I'm consumed with this."
Completely self-taught, Joyce was nevertheless able to fill her booth with an astonishing variety of island arts and crafts. In addition to a series of accomplished drawings and self-penned and illustrated island fables, Joyce offered shoppers colorful paperweights, T-shirts, bath salts, piggy banks and more.
And if Joyce's stories failed to delight, another author and illustrator, Gypsy Li, was on hand with a whole new take on well-loved Christmas tales. Pointing to a picture of a red-suited, jolly old elf she explained, "this is Claus Kringle, Santa's twin brother who's afraid of heights and doesn't like winter." Short of giving away all of Li's delightful story, suffice it to say that Claus uses dolphins instead of reindeer and never, ever wears wool.
Clothing, jewelry of all descriptions, watercolors, leaded stained glass, handcrafted candles and soaps, ceramics galore, traditional Caribbean food and drink and, yes, even macramé plant holders were all there hoping to end up below a Christmas tree.
And if this thorough assortment of holiday goodies wasn't enough, Two Blue Shoes was on stage jamming out spirited blues stylings the likes of which could get even the Grinch into the eggnog-sipping Christmas spirit.
The festival, now in its 23rd year in the Garden, continues on Sunday afternoon.

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