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HomeNewsArchivesThousands Come Out to Wind Up Agrifest 2010

Thousands Come Out to Wind Up Agrifest 2010

Shantee Sookraj takes her daughter, Anjali, for a cooling trip down the waterslide at Agrifest 2010 Monday.The aromas of grilled and fried food wafted everywhere, and the thumping strains of UMB Soldiers’ soca hits could be heard all around the sun-drenched grounds of the Agriculture Department Fairgrounds for the final day of Agrifest 2010 Monday.
A sea of cars filled the field across from the fairground, as much of St. Croix and hundreds more from St. Thomas and the wider Caribbean came out in droves.
All over the sprawling grounds, people milled from area to area, many looking at the dozens of booths and tents set up by businesses, government agencies and schools. The V.I. Energy Office, V.I. Water and Power Authority, Innovative, V.I. Board of Elections, Hovensa, UVI and many others besides had elaborate informational displays.
It was a hot Monday, and the sun blazed in a cloudless sky as hundreds of families took time to stop, dine and rest in the shade of the fairground’s expansive mango orchard. Those who were dressed for it (and brave enough) cooled off with a turn down a tall, inflatable waterslide; a new attraction this year.
Food, Food, Food
But local food is the focus of the fair, and like every year there were traditional cooking demonstrations. Monday afternoon Arlene Abrahams showed how to make all kinds of traditional home-made tarts, then helped Louise Samuel make "horseshoe," a crisp, crunchy pastry with sugar sprinkles in the shape of a horse shoe.
"When I was young, my mother would bake these, and I would sell them in the street," Samuel said. "But nowadays, many young people and even some middle-aged folks might not recognize it."
Louise Samuel shows how to make traditional horseshoe cookies.As she mixed the ingredients for the little brown horseshoe-shaped pastries in a baker’s power mixer, the scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel, and much more filled the air, making mouths water.
As they began their demonstration, a small crowd began to appear, largely composed of mothers and grandmothers of West Indian heritage, but diverse others showed up, curious to see something new or something they remembered from their youth.
"This is an easy recipe, and the ingredients are not expensive," Samuel said reassuringly, mixing flower, shortening, sugar and molasses with the spices, to make a heavy dough, like a shortbread.
She then cut the rolled-out dough into strips with a spurred pastry roller and rolled each strip gently again to leave little pockmarks like the nail holes in a horseshoe. Deftly, she picked up strip after strip, curving them by hand into little horseshoe shapes and rapidly filled up the baking pan as the crowd looked on.
"Farm Frenzy" at the Animal Pavilion
In the livestock pavilion, parents and their children strolled around the rabbits and fowl, fat pigs, goats, sheep and cows. The artistic creations of school teams, scout troops and youth groups filled much of the animal pavilion. This year students and youth groups decorated hay bales with agricultural and recycling themes.
And in a new competition called "Farm Animal Frenzy," young artists turned wooden saw horses into artistic renditions of farm animals using recycled materials. An elaborate peacock from Arthur Richards Junior High won first place.
Under the roof of the Vegetable Market, dozens of schools set up elaborate displays highlighting different aspects of agriculture. The Good Hope School’s exhibit won best K-12 and Best Overall, with a multi-part display focusing on science and nutrition.
"We got really good support from all of the teachers, with entries from every grade from pre-K through 12th grade," said Pedra Chaffers, an art teacher at the school.
Third-graders did an extensive display on composting, using red worms.
"They learned how composting would be a free way to get rid of a lot of our trash," Chaffers said.
The seventh- and eighth-grade science classes researched the nutritional properties of four locally grown foods; coconut water, almond, noni and pomegranate, and made TV commercials for each one.
An eighth-grade social studies class created a documentary video about Senepol cattle, while fifth-graders put together an elaborate display showing the results of a scientific experiment on the effects of different household chemicals on house plants.
"Laundry detergent was the worst, even worse than motor oil, if you can believe it," Chaffers said.
All these were only a part of just a single school’s display. One could spend hours and hours poring over each display, learning from the children and marveling at their artistic talents.
Back outside, shoppers packed the long causeway, browsing through handmade jewelry, paintings, folk art, ornaments, piles of calabash bowls, T-shirts, music CDs, cosmetics and all manner of goods. The thirsty lined up for a ginger beer, limeade, sorrel, maubi or perhaps a peanut punch from their favorite vendors.
Culinary Prizes
This year there was a public contest for best soursop drink and best ginger sugar cake. Eldridge Thomas won for his soursop, and well-known St. Croix baker Laverne Bates took top honors for her ginger sugar cake.
Inside the food pavilion, the competition for prizes was fierce among the cooks. Many familiar faces won multiple prizes in several categories. Bates won first prize for her guavaberry preserves, greenlime jam, and hard peppermint candy, while Alda Francis won first prizes for best stew oxtail, souse and saltfish rice.
Also cleaning up in the cooking contest were Eleanor Sealey, who won first prizes for saltfish, red pea soup, ginger beer and dumb bread; and Lorroley Hall, who won for conch, kallaloo and butter cookies. A team of cooks from Friedensfeld Moravian Church won best peanut butter fudge, roast goat and pigtail rice.
As dusk fell, companies and organizations began tearing down and packing up their exhibits. The music finally gave way to quiet, and the stuffed, tired, sunbaked crowd of young and old began reluctantly drifting off to home, filling Queen Mary Highway and all the adjacent roads with slow-moving lines of cars until well after dark.

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