If you’ve never been to an Agriculture and Food Fair, hailed as the largest in the Caribbean, consider attending the 44th annual Virgin Islands AgriFest held on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands February 14 – 16, 2015. “AgriFest gives you a snapshot of not only agriculture, but the possibilities that we can do with our Agriculture industry by adding value to our products. It also celebrates our culture and things that you normally don’t see throughout the year, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to see and purchase,” Clarice Clarke, UVICES Public Information Specialist and VI AgriFest Coordinator of Promotions interviewed on What’s Going on @UVICES (Weekly Radio Show).
Sponsored by the V.I Department of Agriculture, University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Cooperative Extension Services (UVICES) and the V.I. Department of Tourism, the theme of Agrifest 2015 is “Agriculture: The Heart of it All.” In a St. Croix Source story, UVI President Dr. David Hall describes the AgriFest as, “a family-oriented, community engagement activity where we can renew and widen our circle of friendship, begin cultivating networks, and celebrate the cultural diversity represented.”
Gates always open at 9:00 am and close at 6:00pm with an opening ceremony that starts at 10am on the Saturday morning. People from near and far attend the fair to take advantage of it’s vast array of agriculture education, fresh local food, local produce, live music and other entertainment, children and family activities, shopping opportunities with so many vendors being available in one place and it’s consistently low cost. The entry fees remain affordable at only $6 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and $3 for children.
Centrally located on the Rudolph Shulterbrandt Agricultural Complex at Estate Lower Love, across from the Albert A. Sheen St. Croix campus of the University of the Virgin Islands, the fair always takes place during the 3-day President’s Day weekend. Three stages in the various areas of the fair provide simultaneous ongoing entertainment throughout the day with one of this year’s highlights being a Calypso show focused on Lord Kitchener and his music. Youth groups including the Superior Court Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra, St. Croix Educational Complex Marching Band and others. St. Croix Heritage Dancers and other adult performers also share Virgin Islands culture with the viewing audiences.
“We will reach a day when everything we eat is produced here in the Virgin Islands.” ~UVI President Dr. David Hall, from the VI Source Feb 15 story.
About 48 farmers from St. Croix and other islands occupy about 70 booths, 88 vendors sell t-shirts, jewelry and other items. In addition, fair goers can visit the livestock pavilion, food pavilion and farmers market to check out locally raised animals, grown and prepared food. “We sell only the local food, no alcoholic beverages or sodas whatsoever,” Clarke noted proudly on a radio interview.
UVI components will be participating in the exhibits by displaying their products and the services offered to the community according to a press release on the UVICES website. A centerpiece of the fair, the UVI Tent has numerous programs showcasing their services, lead by UVICES, which focuses on the fair theme and showcases plants and fruits that promote healthy heart eating. The new UVICES publication, “Tropical Fruits of the Virgin Islands and their Nutritional Values,” also highlighted and on sale, which is available along with their other educational publications year-round at UVI bookstores on both campuses.
“Travelers to the fair include people from the other Caribbean islands visiting us who always look forward to coming and participation,” Clarke shared.
Native Son is the official AgriFest ferry and Seaborne Airlines helps get people there from neighboring islands. Major sponsors include Innovative, V.I. Department of Tourism, V.I. Lottery, V.I. Port Authority, DaVybe 107.9 FM, Water and Power Authority, V.I. Waste Management Authority, Choice Communications as well as the men and women of the VIDOA and UVICES for their annual management and organization of the AgriFest.
Local media coverage of the fair is always expected and for more information about the fair from it’s committee members, the AgriFest 2015 Bulletin publication is sold all three days at the fair and made available afterwards as a pdf on the ces.uvi.edu website or connect with their social media pages @uvices. The official AgriFest website is www.viagrifest.org.