Feb. 18, 2006 – The 35th annual Agricultural and Food fair began with accolades for organizers and encouragement for farmers.
Thousands of residents and visitors took advantage of the free admission for the first day of the fair to get an early start on all the AgFair has to offer. The fair is the largest regional agricultural fair in the Caribbean.
This year's event has been extended from three to four days, and kicked off Friday with opening ceremonies at 1 p.m. at the Rudolph Schulterbrandt Agriculture Complex.
Located at Estate Lover Love in Frederiksted, St. Croix, the annual fair showcases locally grown crops, hand made arts and crafts, native food and drinks, and locally bred livestock.
While thousands wandered the expansive fairgrounds, close to 200 people sat in chairs under a large green and yellow striped tent witnessing the opening ceremonies and congratulating the honorees. Dozens of dignitaries from the Virgin Islands as well as other parts of the Caribbean were seated on the raised platform where the presentations were made.
Commissioner of Agriculture Lawrence Lewis led the welcoming remarks with a charge to the elected officials. "We need to do more," Lewis said. "We have used our few talents well but we are stretched to the limits.
"I need to buy additional land for agriculture," Lewis said, directing his remarks to the politicians. Lewis said the department presently owns 1,500 acres.
Lewis also sent out a plea to young people to get involved in farming. "Our farmers are getting older," he said.
Remarking on this year's AgFair theme, "Agriculture and Tourism: A Perfect Mix for 2006," University of the Virgin Islands President Dr. LaVerne E. Ragster said tourism and agriculture provide a way to be creative and have a healthy respect for our culture. She encouraged fair goers to visit the UVI exhibit under the large blue and white tent.
Tourism Commissioner Pamela C. Richards said blending agriculture with tourism is a growing phenomenon. Richards said farm-based bed and breakfasts and seasonal festivities "like this one" are making their mark in tourism.
Governor Charles W. Turnbull said that this would be his last year making remarks as governor at the fair. He said agriculture and tourism should continue to work together and urged visitors to St. Croix to "revel in the serenity of our culture and history."
Other speakers included Delegate to Congress Donna M Christensen; Senate President Lorraine L. Berry; Sam Ebberson, Innovative Communication Corp. senior vice president; and Alex A. Moorhead, Hovensa vice president of government affairs and community relations.
Presentations and Awards
— The fair grounds were named in honor of Henry Carter who dedicated his life to farming.
— Livestock farmer of the year went to Dale and Yvette Brown of Saga Farms.
–Crop farmer of the year was awarded to Oswald Jackson.
–The Food Pavilion is named in honor of Melbourne "Bamboula" Petersen.
–The Livestock Pavilion is named in honor of Frits Lawaetz.
–The Farmers Market is named in honor of Veronica Grodon.
–Also honored were Clair Roker, Clarence "Cherra" Heyliger, and Arthur Petersen for their continued commitment to the annual fair.
The fair continues through Monday evening. Gates open at 9 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children and $3 for senior citizens.
The fair is jointly sponsored by the V.I. Department of Agriculture, the UVI Cooperative Extension Service and the V.I. Department of Tourism. The corporate sponsor is Innovative Communications. Platinum-level sponsor is Hovensa, LLC; gold-lever sponsors are the West Indian Company Ltd., V.I. Port Authority and AARP of the Virgin Islands; bronze-level sponsors are Caribbean Auto, V.I. Lottery and WAPA.
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