May 14, 2005 Quadrille dancers, old time masqueraders, a Quelbe band, mocko jumbie dancers, a steel pan orchestra and even a may pole were featured at Cultural Day, sponsored by the V.I. Department of Tourism as part of its observance of National Tourism Week. Buddhoe Park in Frederiksted, the site of the 1848 Emancipation Proclamation, came alive with culture and the hundreds of people who attended had nothing but good things to say about the day, and the town of Frederiksted.
The theme of the day was "Embracing Tourism Through our Cultural Past." The Department of Tourism has been using the culture and heritage of St. Croix as a selling point for the island, and, according to Pamela C. Richards, tourism commissioner, visitors and residents are embracing the theme. Decked out in her red tourism tee-shirt, Richards stood behind a table filled with give aways of pens, pencils, balloons, mugs, and beach balls handing out goodies to a line of adults and children.
"The visitors to St. Croix want to experience the culture, so we are showcasing it for them," Richards said. Richards said she and her staff regularly issue press releases of cultural events on the island to the hotels and travel agents. "We tell the hotels where to direct their visitors while they are in St. Croix." Richards said the Danish visitors flock to any cultural activity that is taking place. "They want to be involved in the island."
Leroy "Crime" Arnold and his wife Muriel were lounging on one of the about 24 benches ringing the bandstand, watching the activities. "I've lived most of my life in Frederiksted," Leroy said. "I love it, I love the culture." Muriel said she was encouraged by the progress of the Frederiksted waterfront project. (See "Frederiksted Will Rise Again").
"It's going to be great," Muriel said. "Great for the businesses and great for Frederiksted."
There were about six food tents circling the park, providing any type of native food drink or dessert for which one might have a taste. Curtis Williams was at one booth, busy serving customers, scooping out steaming spoonfuls of red pea soup made by Gloria Joseph, a famous local cook. Huge pots of seafood and pork kallaloo, fried fish, roast goat, conch in butter sauce and souse, occupied every inch of the serving table. A crowd of people gathered around, patiently waiting their turn. "I cook the old fashioned way," Joseph said. "I dont use any shortcuts." Joseph, who said she was taught to cook by her godmother, said it was only recently she stopped cooking on "coal pots." "The price of coal is getting expensive too," she said. "But I still fry my fish on a coal pot," she emphasized.
Laverne Bates, a well-known dessert cook, was surrounded in sweets under her candy-striped tent at the west end of the park. Pineapple, guava and coconut individual tarts were so tempting, you wanted to just pop one in your mouth. Bates specializes in Danish desserts such as dundersla, a peanut concoction, heart shaped mints, and lozanger, a peppermint candy braided like a straight pretzel.
Karen and Tom Zimmerman came out to the park to enjoy some of the good food on sale. "I had some seafood kallaloo and my wife had baked chicken," said Zimmerman, "I'm getting ready to eat some rum cake." The Zimmermans, who have made St. Croix their home for the past 30 years, said they are anticipating the re-opening of the Frederiksted waterfront. "Frederiksted is a great town, one of the nicest cruise ship ports in the Caribbean," said Karen, who added she and her husband have been on many Caribbean cruises.
Yvette de la Banque was the winner of a round-trip ticket for two to Denmark compliments of Dansk Vestindien, the Danish West Indian Travel Agency. Marlene Henderson, of St. Croix, won the best fruit punch contest and a prize of $1,000. Her fruit punch will be served at all tourism events in the Virgin Islands. Carolyn Isaac of St. Thomas won second place and a prize of $500.
Providing the entertainment was Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, Ricardo Richards Steele Pan Orchestra, D.J. Comombo, the Claude O. Markoe elementary school masqueraders, and the Juanita Gardine elementary school quadrille dancers.
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