Feb. 19, 2009 — The wind blustered but the rain held off Thursday as the 18th annual Folklife Festival got under way at Annaberg Plantation on St. John.
St. John author and historian Gilbert Sprauve used the weather to give the students a vocabulary lesson.
"Adverse," he said, then segued into "adversarial" and then into "adversities."
"Our ancestors had many adversities," he said.
Annaberg is located just a short boat ride away from Tortola and other British Virgin Islands, which prompted Sprauve to include a geography lesson in his remarks. But he took it a step further to talk about how slaves from St. John escaped to Tortola because slavery ended there in 1834. This was 14 years before an uprising on St. Croix put an end to slavery across what were then the Danish West Indian islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.
The V.I. National Park, which sponsors the annual Folklife Festival, expected about 260 school children Thursday and another 400 plus on Friday to attend the event. It runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
While the community is invited Thursday and Friday, a similar event from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday is expected to bring out many residents and visitors.
On Friday, students were busy studying the informational signs set up at Annaberg so they'd be prepared for the tests they would take when they got back to the classroom.
Julius E. Sprauve School student Maketa Dawson, 11, arrived early Friday.
"Knowing the history of where you're from makes you smart and makes you more interested in learning more," she explained.
Her teacher, Lisa Mars, arrived on St. John from Columbus, Ga., at the start of the school year. She said it was a good way for her to learn about the island's history.
"And I'm enjoying the food," she said.
St. John resident Pat Walters, busy fighting the wind that played havoc with her food-filled table, was setting out sweet potato pudding, ginger beer and lemonade to sell to the students and visitors attending the festival.
"I want to give people a taste of local food that you don't get elsewhere," she said.
St. Thomas resident Justin Todman was selling hand-crafted brooms made from palm fronds. He had one set up with a U.S. flag printed with a picture of President Obama.
"People are buying these like water," he said.
Richard Thompson, a visitor from Cornish, N.H. staying at Maho Bay Camps, was busy looking at the handcrafted items made by St. John resident Ital Anthony. Thompson said he had visited Annaberg the day before.
"The docents gave a wonderful talk. I felt I should come back," he said.
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