Editor's note: Following is information about this year's V.I. Carnival on the island of St. Thomas from a release distributed nationwide by Martin Public Relations, the V.I. government's mainland p.r. agency.
Feb. 28, 2003 – "Music, Mas and Pageantry for Carnival 2003" is the theme for this year's Virgin Islands Carnival, scheduled for April 6 through May 4 on St. Thomas. Marked by exquisite displays of pageantry, spirited music festivals, a mouth-watering food fair, parades and much more, the event captures the senses of both residents and visitors every year.
"Carnival showcases the culture, traditions and vibrant people of the USVI," Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards says. "This year's event is sure to be another unforgettable celebration of our islands' heritage."
The first V.I. Carnival was held on St. Thomas on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 1912. Due to the start of World War I, the celebrations halted and did not recommence until 1952, wherein it became the cultural mainstay that it is today. The 2003 Carnival Village, set to open on April 28, will be named "Gerry's Place" in honor of Gerald Hodge Sr., who helped revive V.I. Carnival in 1952 and who has been a steadfast supporter of the event ever since. With enthusiastic support from local residents, the 51-year evolution of V.I. Carnival has established the event as one of the liveliest celebrations in the world.
Carnival isn't complete without an abundance of local delicacies. The 51st annual Food Fair, "Lucia's Straw Market," will honor Lucia Thomas Crabbe Penn, who has been a mainstay food fair vendor for many years. The annual food fair, scheduled for April 30, includes such favorites as Vienna cake, stuffed shellfish, sweet potato pudding, fresh tropical fruit juices, fried johnny cakes, benyes (yeast-based fried banana fritters) and golden brown saltfish cakes. Whether the preparation is French, English, Dutch, Danish, Spanish, Indian or African, the use of local ingredients and spices make the foods brim with homegrown flavors and West Indian flair.
Music is a fundamental ingredient in the V.I. Carnival recipe for fun. Calypso, quelbe and steelpan sounds are the most popular forms of toe-tapping rhythms heard during the month-long festival. Competitions and performances heat up throughout the celebration and include: the Junior Calypso Monarch competition (April 22), the King and Queen of the Band competition (April 23), Latin Night (April 24), Calypso Review I (April 25), Calypso Review II (April 26), Pan-O-Rama (April 27), the Senior Citizens' Quelbe Tramp (April 29), and the V.I. Calypso Monarch competition (May 1). Calypso plays a unique role this year, as Carnival comes to a close with the "Calypso Spectakula" (May 3). The musical program will replace the former fireworks finale.
The Prince and Princess Show (April 6) and the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association Queen Show (April 7) will select the royal courts for 2003. One of the most enthusiastic processions is J'Ouvert, when participants tramp along the waterfront of Charlotte Amalie beginning at 4 a.m. The royal courts will be presented at the Children's Parade (May 2) and the Adults' Parade, the culmination of Carnival Mas (May 3).
For a complete calendar of events and additional information about Carnival 2003, visit the V.I. Carnival Web site, or call (340) 776-3112.
For additional information about the United States Virgin Islands, call (800) 372-USVI (8784), visit the V.I. Tourism Web site, or contact the nearest V.I. Department of Tourism regional office in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Washington, D.C., or Toronto.
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