Jan. 4, 2006 — "Food is love, and there is a lot of love here," Delegate Donna M. Christensen said Wednesday afternoon.
Christensen joined hundreds of people at the Christian "Shan" Hendricks Vegetable Market for the 2006 Crucian Christmas Festival Food, Arts and Crafts Fair in Christiansted. More than 27 food, pastry, and arts and crafts vendors offered up their handmade wares to hordes of hungry residents and visitors.
The fair was named in honor of La-Verne Y. Bates, a cake and pastry chef who specializes in goodies such as tarts, candies, and cakes. In her remarks at the opening of the food fair, Bates thanked her mother for her continued support and those famous cooks who shared their recipes with her.
Bates said she began selling her wares in the Christiansted vegetable market more than 10 years ago, and the word spread quickly about her delicious delights.
"I used to come here every Saturday, and the word spread about my cakes and tarts," Bates said. At that time Bates was baking part time but soon she quit her job and began baking full time. "It just grew and grew," Bates said about her business. "So many people got to know about me."
Indeed, the other dignitaries who congratulated Bates were familiar with her handiwork. Tourism Commissioner Pamela C. Richards said she has taken Bates' products with her on official tourism visits throughout the Caribbean and Europe. "Her food speaks for itself — it's' miles and miles above the rest," Richards said.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards, another fan of Bates' culinary delights, congratulated her for her years of service to the community, as he prepared to assist in the cutting of the official ribbon that opened the food fair. Richards expressed regards from Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and commented that the chief executive was "under the weather" and could not attend the event.
Bradley Christian, chairperson of the event for the past 12 years, surveyed the crowds and officially declared the fair a success.
"It's super, the vendors are selling out," Christian said. "People are glad to get the delicacies they can't get all year."
And there was definitely a lot of food to go around — that is if you were patient enough to stand in the long lines to get your favorite meal. Nonetheless, hundreds of attendees got their bellyful of traditional favorites such as lobster-stuffed snapper, pot fish, kallaloo, roast goat, roast pork, and chicken and all the trimmings. People were often seen carrying several plates of food out of the market area.
Later in the afternoon the mocko jumbies performed their stilt-dancing routines. Culture bearers Stanley and the 10 Sleepless Knights also entertained the waning crowd with traditional quelbe sounds, and the St. Croix Heritage Dancers rounded out the entertainment as the sun sank slowly in the west.
There are just three more days of St. Croix Crucian Festival fun. The highlights include the King and Queen of the Bands on Wednesday evening and J'ouvert at 5 a.m. Thursday.
Thursday evening brings the contenders for the Calypso Monarch title at Island Center for the Performing Arts. Friday is the children's parade and La Noche Latina (Latin Night) in the Village. Saturday is the adult's parade, more entertainment in the Village and fireworks.
Check the Source frequently for all your 2005–06 St. Croix Festival highlights.
See the complete schedule here.
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