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Folklife Festival Captivates Students and Tourists Alike

Feb. 28, 2006 – Close to a thousand students from St. John and St. Thomas attended Tuesday's Folklife Festival at the ball field adjacent to the V.I. National Park's Visitors Center.
Sponsored by the park, the one-day annual event showcased various local crafts, food and entertainment.
With "Celebration of Black Women" as this year's theme, the event featured Karen Jones Meadows' one-woman play on the life of Harriett Tubman.
The festival also featured storytelling and poetry readings.
Julius E. Sprauve School students Gemmesha Ashley and Sinead Burkett, both 15, were busy comparing notes on their class assignment.
"We have to find out as much as we can," Sinead said.
She said the students were "playing reporter" for the day by interviewing the dozen or so people selling things like fresh vegetables, handcrafted dolls and jewelry, as well as those demonstrating crafts. When they were done, Burkett said, they had to write a report.
Ras Nashambai of We Grow Food Inc. on St. Thomas was busy explaining to visitors the health value of his provisions.
"The green papaya keeps your blood pressure down," he said, adding that he had nutritional drinks as well as organic rice dishes for sale.
Alton Evans Jr. of St. Thomas had handcrafted jewelry for sale. "Everything's made from coconut shell," he said.
St. John resident Les Anderson, standing next to a partially restored boat, was on hand with a tale to tell about the vessel.
"David Knight started rebuilding it," Anderson said, launching into a story how he was now restoring it for the new owner following a delay caused by damage incurred to his own boat during a New Year's Eve jaunt to Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke.
Despite Anderson's tale, his presence at the festival, officially, was to promote maritime culture.
On that topic, he said he's working on a project to convert the old and unused East End School into a museum to highlight topics like the island's boatbuilding past.
While the Folklife Festival brings out mainly students with a smattering of island adults, it also gets a fair amount of tourists.
"We read about it and it sounded interesting," Madison, Wisc., resident Cheryl Thoreson said, explaining why she stopped by.
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