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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, January 30, 2023
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Photo Focus: Coquito Festival — A Joyful Treat for the Whole Family This Year

This year’s Coquito Festival had lip-licking coquito and so much more for the whole family on Saturday at La Reine Chicken Shack on St. Croix. Locals and tourists from across the mainland U.S. and Puerto Rico enjoyed the all-day festivities of traditional coquito and a variety of new, innovative flavors.

Jennifer Matarangas-King, vice president of Public Relations and Governmental Affairs at Viya, noted, “Everyone’s a winner at this year’s competition. It’s a great day and the excitement is wonderful. It’s been amazing and we look forward to it every year. Viya has been participating for many years and is glad to be back since not having the festival for two years.” But, she also noted the competition is her favorite part as many home chefs come out to compete every year. 

The winners were Edna Santiago, followed by Siedah Browne, who touts being a generational coquito maker who learned from her mother, who learned from her grandmother who was originally from Vieques, Puerto Rico. Shawn Samuel placed third out of several first-timers and longtime competitors.

Chief Judge Danny Matarangas-King, left, judging the bottle design by Y’vis Coquito with local celebrity chef Julius Jackson, who traveled from St. Thomas to participate as a judge in the 13th annual Coquito Festival at La Reine Chicken Shack, St. Croix. (Photo by Shanell Petersen)

Danny noted that it is a blind taste test, but the judges do get to see who the bottle designers are during the competition.

Even some adults, Kimbree and Gordon, far left, got in on the fun, taking a turn at the bouncy house slide provided by LiVi Marketing and Promotions at the Coquito Festival Saturday on St. Croix. (Photo by Shanell Petersen)
Amaya Jeffrey, 7, smiles for a picture with her younger sister K’maya Jeffrey, 5, as mom gets in some holiday photos with Santa Claus, who arrived on his fire truck “sleigh” at the 13th Annual Coquito Festival on St. Croix. While Toys for Tots by the St. Croix Marine Corps Association and other partners provided backpacks, art sets, and more for all ages. (Photo by Shanell Petersen)
Karen, first-time contestant, dared to go beyond the traditional with an assortment of holiday flavors, including her favorite, peppermint and almond. Karen has been making coquito for 2-3 years and noted her excitement at participating in the 13th Annual Coquito Festival. (Photo by Shanell Petersen)
Gio serves a virgin coquito to Lily, 7, assisted by Yvonne Sanes, creator of Y’vis Coquito, who placed in the 12th Annual Coquito Festival in 2019. Several competitors provided a family-friendly version for the many attendees of this year’s festival. (Photo by Shanell Petersen)
A festival isn’t complete on St. Croix without moko jumbies on display embodying the spirits of the ancestors as part of the prideful Crucian heritage. (Photo by Shanell Petersen)
Viya played a huge role in the Coquito Festival, as they have from its inception, providing this year many giveaways, discounts on services and cash prizes of up to $500 for the winners. (Photo by Shanell Petersen)
Hundreds enjoyed the bands that played, including Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights and Vio International, among other local Crucian favorites, at the La Reine Chicken Shack for the annual Coquito Festival in Kingshill, St. Croix. (Photo by Shanell Petersen)
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