Nov. 16, 2004 Rain won't stop the Carnival, and this year, recent showers won't lead to the cancellation of the 22nd annual St. Thomas-St. John Agriculture & Food Fair, set for this weekend.
"We met Monday morning and decided to make a few changes in the logistics at the fairgrounds. Basically, the fair will still be on the grounds of the Reichhold Center, but we've shifted around where certain booths will be to avoid wet areas and puddles," explained Carlos Robles, fair president and specialist with the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of the Virgin Islands.
This year's theme is, "Agriculture Galore for 2004."
"It's a vision of agriculture now and for the future. We think agriculture here in the Virgin Islands at some point will be bigger than it is now. Even now, most farmers who carry their products out [to the fair] don't have anything that comes back. There is demand for freshly grown local foods," Robles said.
This year, fair-goers can expect to find fresh eggs; chickens; local honey; vegetables like eggplant, peppers and collard greens; and bush teas. Also, "there will be plenty of plants of all descriptions, sizes and types, from fruit trees to ornamentals," Robles said.
The farm animal display of goats, cows and pigs, and petting zoo full of baby animals is always a big hit. "We may even have some ducks," Robles said.
Over two dozen food booths are sure to serve up something for every appetite. "There will be everything from traditional fish and fungi to vegetarian foods. In fact this year, we have six booths that will offer strictly vegetarian dishes. This is up from two to three booths of this kind in past years. We'll also have a couple of booths that will have nothing but locally made drinks. These will include selections like a banana soy drink, mango juice and coconut water."
Those who think they make the best sweetbread or maubi can enter this annual competition. "Both are taste tests and judged by a panel of three to five judges. Taste counts a lot, but presentation does too," Robles said.
The sweetbread and maubi competition takes place on Sunday starting at 3 pm. Sweetbread contestants are encouraged to pre-register by calling Faye James at the Department of Agriculture, 774-5182.
Holiday shoppers will find an array of enticing crafts. "We really put an emphasis on locally made arts and crafts. There will be woodcraft, handmade clothing, paintings, jewelry, clay pots, candles and soaps, to name a few," Robles said
The East End Family Health Center will be providing screenings for blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar and other tests throughout the weekend.
Also, there will be ongoing live entertainment. In addition to a DJ from Web Productions, the Lockhart Elementary School Quadrille Dancers will perform on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., followed by the Headline Band from 3 to 5 p.m. On Sunday, the Rising Stars Steel Orchestra will take to the stage from 3 to 5 p.m.
"The Fair is a great time to stock up for the holidays, be it produce or crafts," Robles said. "We invite everyone to come out."
The Fair is open from 10 am until 5 pm. Admission is $2 for those 12 and older and $1 for those 11 years of age and younger.
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