15th Annual St. John Folklife Festival Has New Home at VINP Ball Field

There are some new twists to the 15th Annual Folklife Festival, which will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 28. For the first time, the festival—which is free and open to the public—will be held at the ball field next to the V.I. National Park Visitor’s Center in Cruz Bay, as opposed to its old home at the Annaberg Ruins.

“There are a few reasons for the change,” said VINP ranger Denise Georges, who has run the festival since its inception. “It was such a problem for the children to get all the way out to Annaberg. Children from St. Thomas had to pay for the boat ride over here, and then the taxi ride out to Annaberg.”

The distance to the Annaberg site also cut into the time that children were able to spend at the festival.

“If the festival starts at 10 a.m., the kids had to be back for the 1 p.m boat,” Georges said. “It was always a rush. This year, they will have more time.”

Celebrating Black Women
This year’s theme, “We Run Tings,” is a celebration of black women, and the festivities include a play about the life of Harriet Tubman by Karen Jones Meadows.

“Meadows will perform the two-hour play,” said Georges. “She is really good, and it promises to be a very interesting production.”

Well-known storyteller Kitty Evans Wilson will be on hand to recount stories about slavery.

“She will be depicting slaves leaving Africa, being taken to St. John, and being torn from here and taken to South Carolina,” said Georges.

There will also be traditional arts and crafts for sale, as well as island food and snacks.

The boat building theme of last year’s festival has not been forgotten this year, either.

“Les Anderson and Mark Hansen will bring their traditional island sloops over, and will tie up at the National Park dock,” said Georges. “The location of the festival this year will enable the kids to actually get into the boats and see them up close.”

Maritime History
Georges hope to revive interest in the history of boat building on St. John.

“All the kids here know are the ferry boats, and they need to know that this is their history,” she said. “They should know who these courageous people who were building boats were.”

“I think that we need to open a maritime museum,” Georges continued. “The history is so rich and unique, it shouldn’t be overlooked.”

“Maybe this will be the jump start for beginning the process of establishing a maritime museum,” she added.

The play about Harriet Tub-man’s life was developed and produced at Cross Theater Company. Ricardo Khan was artistic director of the West Coast production; Gilbert Castes was producing director and Lou Moore managing director.

The 15th Annual Folklife Festival will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28.