Hot Sun and Food Fair Fun

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Governor John de Jongh, Pamela Samuel and Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone help newly crowned Miss St. John, Festival Princess and Junior Miss officially open the 2014 Festival Food Fair Sunday, June 22, in Franklin Powell Sr. Park. The fair was named in honor of Avelino Samuel of Coral Bay, an internationally recognized wood turning artist and educator. The honoree is currently on a six city U.S. tour, teaching his craft to American youth.

CRUZ BAY – The Sunday sun served up a hot one for the 2014 St. John Festival Food Fair, but cold drinks, warm smiles and lots of cool shade kept the party going.

Any spot in Franklin Powell Park provided some refuge and an opportunity to browse among the tented vendors with their crafts. The food fair celebrates culture in its many forms and the creative touch of Virgin Islanders.

Painter and musician Llion Maynard set out his canvasses in the center of the park and went off to a display of native fruits near the roadway. On his table was a furry fruit at the end of a curly vine, looking like a possum.

“It’s baobab,” he said to a curious visitor.

At the table’s other end lay two long pods, resembling okra. “That’s moringa,” Maynard said.

In two bottles was homemade tea. He said he started drinking moringa tea while staying in New York.

Captains readied their vessels for the annual boat races, below, as hundreds of residents and visitors crowd the Cruz Bay waterfront, above, during the St. John Festival Food Fair on Sunday, June 22.

When he came to St. John he found moringa trees growing on island, so he began bottling his own. It helps on days when he doesn’t eat right, he said.

Most of the food fair crowd was engaged in eating right, whatever right meant to them that day. For some it was a heaping plate of conch in butter sauce with fungi, mac and cheese. For others, a thick slice of cooling watermelon.

And for those who wanted to beat the heat, two cool containers of passion fruit punch and more moringa tea. Cecilia Andrews poured drinks into cups in between touting the benefits of beauty oils and creams.

This year’s fete came in time for the festival’s 60th anniversary. It was also a time for royalty to reign from the past to the present. Sixteen former queens, princes and princesses donned sashes and gathered at the food of the Powell Park bandstand to honor their traditions.

“It’s an honor to be here because it’s 60 years and it’s an honor to be part of it,” said 1993 Prince Reynaldo Oquendo.

Governor John deJongh helped with coronation duties for Junior Miss D’Azhae Harrigan, Princess Tae Zha Maduro and Queen Kyrelle Thomas, who won her title early Sunday morning at the Winston Wells Ballpark.

The Food Fair honoree, however couldn’t make it. Woodturning artist Avelino Samuel was away doing the thing he loves most in life, teaching children, said his wife, Pamela.

“He is a member of the international society, so when they want him they book him two years in advance,” Pamela Samuel said as she accepted the plaque recognizing Avelino for his cultural contributions.

Samuel is a retired industrial arts teacher from the Julius E. Sprauve School in Cruz Bay.