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Vincentian Culture Showcased in Martha's Vineyard VincyFest

MarthasVineyardrevSATURDAY, AUGUST 27 dawned clear and bright on Martha’s Vineyard, perfect weather for the inaugural Vineyard Vincyfest. It was a success. The history behind this festival goes back to September 27, 2014, when a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and the Martha’s Vineyard Island Council was signed.

This MOU was signed to encourage and facilitate closer relationships between these two islands and thus the idea of having a festival to showcase the culture of SVG to the residents of Martha’s Vineyard and its international visitors was born.

MarthasVineyardrev2The festival organizers fully recognized the similarities between the two islands and made every effort to showcase and celebrate their common traditions and long history of shared indigenous cultures. After many months of planning this festival, it finally took place on the beautiful grounds of Featherstone Center For the Arts, a six – acre property in Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard.

Key organizers of this festival were: SVG consul general to the USA Selmon Walters, who was the director of the SVG team; Camille English, who was the committee chair; Teddy Linley, Celia Ross-Latham, Chandelle De Riggs, Rosalind Goodluck, Stefferny Boyce-Herbert, Ynolde Smart and Camille Saunders Musser.

Members on the Martha’s Vineyard working group were Anita Botti, chief instigator of the MOU and team leader for the festival; Ann Smith – executive director of Featherstone Center for the Arts; Martina Thornton – Dukes county manager; Beth Kramer, Nancy Cardella, Tim Carroll, Glen DeBlase, Natalie Ward, Rozetta Lewis Hughes, Rebekah El-Diery, and Isabelle Hazell El-Diery.

Keisha Phillips and Nisha Glasgow from the Center for Enterprise Development played a tremendous part, ensuring that the products from SVG were packed and shipped to the USA. They also attended the festival and were in charge of selling all the processed food and craft from SVG.

MarthasVineyardrev3There were many festival goers from the diaspora and Vineyard residents. All had a wonderful time. There was music from the South East Steel Orchestra, led by band leader Marla Nanton. When they played, the crowd surrounded them and listened intently. The music was sweet!

There was a Garifuna contingent and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnar on Martha’s Vineyard; they both gave performances of drumming, singing and dancing. Boat building tools were on display, as well as art and craft from SVG.

Seven local artists — Shanique Stewart, Sean Roache, Christine Browne, Gary Peters, Nzimbu, LeeAndra Thompson and Camille Saunders Musser — displayed their work.

A highlight of the event was an inflatable 40-foot humpback whale called “Salt”. It was possible to walk inside the whale and see the anatomy as well. The real humpback whale called “Salt” makes a 3,000 mile round trip journey each year, swimming from the cold waters of the North Atlantic to the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Carnival in SVG was showcased. This consisted of Carnival costumes on display and calypso singers; among them was Lady Hibiscus. Soca music from SVG was constantly played when the steel orchestra was taking a break. There was a great Carnival “vibe”. A fun time was had by all.

(Contributed by Camille Musser)

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