June 30, 2001 – The "village spirit" of the St. John Festival abounded Friday night as both the Festival Village, this year honoring Cheryl Boynes-Jackson, and the Children's Village opened for business and pleasure.
Adding to their appeal was the return to the festival, after about a decade's absence, of carnival midway rides, set up in the ball field by the V.I. National Park Visitor Center.
St. Johnians, neighbors from St. Thomas and tourists shared the fun of the village, named in honor of Cheryl Boynes-Jackson, chief operating officer for Boyson Inc. and a former Miss St. John. The official opening ceremony that included participation by government officials, festival royalty and honored guests began at 7 p.m. with music the Love City Pan Dragons.
Mistress of ceremonies Alecia Wells welcomed those on the stage, which included the village honoree, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd, Harry Daniel and St. John Administrator Julien Harley.
Liburd and Harley urged everyone to have a fun festival but not to forget the struggles leading to freedom, celebrated on Emancipation Day, July 3, and Independence Day, July 4, in the Virgin Islands. Liburd reminded the audience that the "freedom train" in the islands began on St. John with the slave rebellion of 1733.
Turnbull said St. John, the smallest of the three major U.S. Virgin Islands, is unmatched in its love and community support and has a special place in the destiny of the Virgin Islands.
Brian Young, managing director of Caneel Bay, a long-time festival corporate supporter, was thanked for the resort's contributions. Bellows International was awarded a plaque for its continued sponsorship of the village.
Boynes-Jackson seemed overwhelmed by the accolades she received on the stage — floral bouquets, plaques and testimonials from those who have known and worked with her over the years. Among the well wishers, WSTA radio personality Addie Ottley presented her with a plaque from his station acknowledging her community service to the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, the island of St. John and the Virgin Islands.
Addressing the audience, Boynes-Jackson expressed gratitude for the honors. She said the festival has always been an integral part of her life and that the village helps her unwind and reduce stress. She urged everyone to partake of local food and drinks, and when "grinding and winding" and "meeting and greeting," keep in mind "Heritage, Culture and Fun for Festival 2001" — the theme of this year's festival.
After the presentations, a ribbon was cut to open the village officially. It will be the scene of nightly band performances through the end of the festival on Wednesday.
In the Children's Village, operated by the St. John Community Foundation, "a constant flow of children and teen-agers filled the space," volunteer Cheryl Miller said. "We had popcorn, cotton candy and loads of Rotary volunteers."
Seen on the scene: young drum majorettes and mocko jumbi-ettes practicing for the Fourth of July parade. And pre-teens and toddlers smiling with anticipation as games, both new and time tested, beckoned them to try their luck or skill for 50 cents a pop.
Jan Henderson, visiting from the mainland, displayed the brute strength of a "bell ringer" with the rubber mallet. Other youngsters indulged in dart throw, ring toss and wheel of fortune games in their quest for the gold "doubloons" which can be accumulated and then redeemed for a variety of prizes.
Kathy and Martin Missen, St. Thomas residents with their nephews from England in tow, said this is their eighth St. John festival, and they come each year for the "atmosphere."
Long-time foundation activist Lonnie Willis was selling tickets for the foundation raffle with prizes including accommodations at Marriott Frenchman's Reef and other St. Thomas hotels, dining and shopping certificates, a sailing trip, jewelry, champagne and spa services.
Daniel, a foundation board member, ran the adult Bingo operation set up within Children's Village. "The table was filled once B-12 was called out," Miller said, and "prizes flowed."
The idea behind Children's Village is to provide an alcohol- and drug-free environment for young people to enjoy themselves while adults pursue other festival interests. It's operated as a fund-raiser for the foundation, which makes mini-grants to other groups and provides support for other community activities throughout the year.
Overall, Miller said, "Carnival Village felt so comfortable. There was a feeling of old-time fun, family and fete."
Until Tuesday, the villages are where the St. John Festival action is at. On Tuesday night the first-ever Mr. Emancipation show is to get under way at 8 p.m. in the Winston Wells Ball Park Wednesday, the Fourth of July, is to kick off at 4 a.m. (island time) with J'Ouvert, followed by the traditional parade at 11 a.m. and fireworks in Cruz Bay harbor at 9 p.m.
For the full festival lineup, see the Source St. John Festival schedule.


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