Home News Local news Farmers from Across the Caribbean to Converge for 36th Annual Agricultural Fair

Farmers from Across the Caribbean to Converge for 36th Annual Agricultural Fair

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Jan. 27, 2007 — Soon the largest regional agricultural fair in the Caribbean will celebrate 36 years of food, fun and farming as St. Croix gears up for its annual Agricultural and Food Fair.
This year's theme, "Make Things Happen: Revive Agriculture in 2007," echoes the thoughts and concerns of many Virgin Islanders who believe agriculture has taken a back seat to many other issues facing the territory, organizers aid.
Young people are the key to sustaining agriculture, said Stamford Crossman, acting commissioner of the Department of Agriculture.
"The farming community is getting fewer and older," Crossman said. "We need a clear mandate and funds for the Department of Education to integrate agriculture into the schools. The department is ready and willing to do all they can to make that happen."
From Feb. 17 through Feb. 19, the fair will showcase locally grown crops, handmade arts and crafts, native food and drinks and locally bred livestock. Every year thousands flock to Estate Lover Love to witness firsthand what the island naturally has to offer.
"Last year we had more than 5000 visitors every day," Crossman said. He expects this year's turnout to surpass that number.
The fair is a not-for-profit organization run by an independent board and sponsored by the Department of Tourism, the UVI Cooperative Extension Service and the Department of Agriculture. Proceeds from the fair go toward future fair events and to pay for entertainment.
The fair had its beginnings in the 1950s at the old agriculture station in Anna's Hope. It started as a small event to showcase farmers' products. In 1971, the fair moved to its present location in Estate Lover Love, and it has continued to grow every year. Today, with its large livestock component, school and youth displays and farmers' market, this local fair can stand its ground against any country or state fair traditionally held in many parts of the mainland, organizers say.
Repeat fair attendees will be able to see their favorite booths filled with farm animals and learn about agriculture in the Caribbean. Others will be able to participate in games such as sugar-cane peeling, goat milking, a cow chip toss and more. There will also be game shows testing resident's agricultural knowledge like "Agri-Jeopardy" and "So You Want to be an Agriculturist."
Last year's Vienna cake competition sparked a friendly but intense rivalry among the island's best bakers. Crossman hopes that this year's chocolate-cake competition generates the same amount of interest.
Continuing the tradition of many years, some main features of the fair are the farmers' market, which also houses school and other exhibits, the livestock pavilion, the food pavilion and more than 100 vendors selling jewelry, fragrances, mahogany furniture, local artists paintings, airbrush tattoos and an array of unique items.
Exhibitors and vendors from as far way as Guyana are expected at the fair, organizers say. According to Crossman, several islands will be represented, including Anguilla St. Kitts, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Martin, Puerto Rico and Nieves.
Fair participants will have a series of meetings at the Rudolph Schulterbrandt Agriculture Complex — the AgFair grounds — before opening day. Schools and youth groups will meet Jan. 31 at 3:30 p.m. FairWear Fashion show participants will meet Feb. 1 at 4 p.m. Exhibitors, government and non-profit groups will meet Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m. Crops' and farmers' market exhibitors will meet Feb. 14 at 5:30 p.m.
St. Croix's agricultural fair is a fun, safe environment for the entire family, organizers said. Admission to the fair is $5 for adults, $2 for children and $3 for senior citizens. Gates open at 9 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.
"We've worked hard as usual to host this fair, and we ask the general public to come and support the farmers, cooks and vendors and have a great fair experience," Crossman said.
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