Eighth Annual St. John Arts Festival To Focus on Local, Handmade Goods

The eighth annual St. John Arts Festival, dubbed “Caribbean Foods, Crafts and Music Through the Ages” is set to kick off on Saturday, February 9, and this year, the focus will be strictly on local, handmade items in an effort to showcase the culture of St. John.

Festival organizer Frank Langley is expecting more than 20 exhibits in the Frank Powell Park, which will be open daily February 9 to 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., providing residents and visitors the opportunity to admire and purchase local foods, including fruits, fish and spices and crafts, including wood carvings, pottery and jewelry, and to enjoy local music, including performances by the Echo People, Inner Visions and the Love City Pan Dragons.

Children’s Exhibits
“The thrust is to have Caribbean foods and crafts,” said Langley. “We feel that at this point, we can really insist on handmade local items. That way, when a visitor comes to the festival, they’re looking at things made in this region — no longer can they find items made in China, Indonesia or Taiwan, so the disappointment won’t be there.”

In addition to the daily exhibition in the park, Love City’s children will share their knowledge of the island’s history through art exhibits and skits. Freestanding placards created by students from Guy Benjamin School, Julius E. Sprauve School and Gifft Hill School showcasing different phases in the island’s evolution, from the original volcanic eruption through present day, will be on exhibit in the Frank Powell Park daily. The students will also present a historic tableaux and dance depicting life on St. John through the ages at the St. John School of the Arts, and exhibit art illustrating natural and anthropological history of the island at the Artists’ Association of St. John balcony.

“All is Not Lost”
“The St. John Arts Festival purposely includes a strong youth element by involving the school children of St. John,” said Langley. “This way visitors will get a true insight into the island rather than just the superficial appearance of the place. We’re trying to ardently show the true nature of this island through its history and culture, and that of course means music, arts and crafts.”

While St. John has seen many changes over the past several decades, the Arts Festival serves to remind residents and tourists alike of the continued presence of the island’s strong culture, according to Langley.

“I recognize there’s a need here for such a festival because of overbearing manifestations of commercialization on an island that I remember back in the 1970s,” he said. “The festival is one way of saying all is not lost. We can celebrate the true spirit of this island — particularly the people.”

For more participants photos and a complete list of activities and events, see page 21. For additional information, visit www.stjohnartsfestival.org.