The Coral Bay Community Council held it's 2nd Annual Father's Day “Ol' Tyme Fish Fry” on Sunday June 17th. from 4 until 8 pm. Again, this year, it was a wonderful event with approximately 200 people attending.
It began because the CBCC was looking for a way to unite the entire Community-to bring Coral Bay folks together for an evening of fun, food and tradition. What better way than to put together an old time Fish Fry- like the true Fish Fry's of the past?
Malhom “KoKo” Pickering and Bonny Corbeil, a CBCC Board Member, had both lamented the lack of these kinds of parties. Much of the food at todays socials come “ready prepared”. As we well know- “true parties” are created by cooking for others- very much the same way as “mama cooking up a meal for her own family"with them as a part of that loving experience. This is the base of true family harmony-food preparation, sharing and eating-together. It is where the love is-and on an Island called “Love City” it seemed like it was well time “to raise up” Traditions of the past!
The CBCC Board agreed.
There was only one place who could truly facilitate an authentic “Ol' Tyme Fish Fry of the past-and that was Miss Lucy's by the Sea. Both Guy Walsh and Eddie Smith- both known as “Miss Lucy's sons” immediately supported our efforts to revive Tradition and offered the use of their beach front restaurant to host it. Many a fish fry had been held on these beaches in the past…the spirit was there on the beach under the old sea grape tree.
It was time to call on the “True Keepers of Tradition” to help out with their expertise-Miss Thelma Dalmida and Jewel Powell. Miss Thelma's family had been key fishermen in Coral Bay. Miss Jewel, Thelma's sister, still offers her authentic WI cuisine in her mobile Van in Coral Bay. When she is opened you can see the natives, locals and tourists alike stop for the best johnny cakes on St. John! These two Ladies have earned the respect of all of us. To have them support this event made it possible. Their dedication to “keeping Tradition alive” warms the heart.
Thelma became Bonny's “Consultant” helping to make sure everything was done the “right way”. Miss Jewel offered to do all of the preparation of johnny cake dough as well as the local fresh fish. Coal pots were gathered to cook on the beach using homemade charcoal by Patrick from Annaberg-and as many said “it give the right flavor to the food!”.
“KoKo and The Sunshine Band”, once again, generously donated their musical services- all because of their great commitment to reviving the important Cultural Traditions of the past.
“KoKo” Malhom was also the man who took charge of getting all of the fresh fish from the local fisherman.
It was later picked up and delivered to Coral Bay to Thelma's who in turn held it for Miss Powell's expert preparation. As you can see-the efforts and time involved-were that of a group of caring diverse citizens-all joined together to revive and create the important WI Traditions of the past.
Jean Cottrell, another CBCC Board Member, stepped right in to request Coral Bay businesses' involvement. Generous donations were made by Mosquito Bites, Aqua Bistro, Donkey Diner; Miss Lily's Gourmet Market; Love City Mini mart; Maho/Concordia; Chateau Bordeaux; Sweet Plantains; Island Blues; Karen Barnowski from Windspree Villa Rentals- who was very generous in purchasing numerous needs from St. Thomas; Friends of Andy Gordon; Skinny Legs; and of course, AJ from St. John Ice Company, always a willing participant in any community event, supplied us with all of our ice needs. Denise and Pat from Shipwreck Landing provided all of the utensils and paper products- and allowed us to order the necessary food products through them. We know that it is a hard time of the year for many businesses-and we thank you for helping us unite our community in this wonderful way.
Jolly Dog and Tall Ships joined together to create a wonderful “Fish Fry” T-shirt as well. If you missed the event you can buy one at Miss Lucy's. Thank you so much Jeff, Jen, Elliot and Joe.
We hope that those living in Coral Bay will support these businesses who support our CBCC efforts to make us a better community.
Thanks as well and deepest appreciation go to Dave D'Alberto and Mame Matthews both from Aqua Bistro who were the only “true experienced cooks” available that day. Without these folks-we could not have pulled it off.
They worked this event for 7 solid hours cooking-no easy task! They jumped in to take charge-amidst the hot charcoal; coconut frond fire; curious and interested Tourists seeking out constant information on what they were doing- not to mention the goats popping their heads in at the most inopportune time-looking for a free-hand out! Dave and Mame were assisted by Gabrielle Nathaniel and Paul Devine. Jean Cottrell and Pat Miller served the food to all of guests. Every event has at least one “heart-touching” incident. Ours was a call-the day of the event from Ital's mother, Marguarita Sayers, who knew there was anxiety about having enough Johnny cake dough for the crowd. She simply went ahead made us more dough for the party! This was a true display of support and caring for what we were doing.
Then there was “Coconut Tyrone”- who truly captivated the crowd with his truck full of fresh coconuts; machete skills and cultural authenticity. Tyrone spent days-being sure that we had drum grills to work on; as well as collecting coconut tusks and firewood to cook on. Simply watching the “big eyes” of the young children on vacation-was wonderful to see-chasing goats and drinking coconut water! They reminded us of why folks to come to our Islands-authentic Tradition and new experiences. As usual Tyrone-you were the Star of the show, Mon! You make your culture proud.
Then there were the other volunteers who are willing to work hard the day of the event. These folks should feel very proud for their part to keep our Cultural Tradition alive as well. They include: Cid Hamlin and Debbie Himes who sold tickets and in the St. John tradition, warmly greeted and hugged our guests on arrival; Vicki Rogers and "Skinny Legs" newcomer Shawn (wonderful guy!) who skillfully manned the Bar; Jen Dale and Sandy Stein who learned quickly from Wesley Thomas, Band Member, on how to roll fresh johnny cake dough to fry up! Bruce Fielding, Wil Henderson and Paul Devine-both Veterans- are always there to help the Community in anyway.
At one point-I looked at all of the folks there and thought: “What a wonderful, diverse and loving Community I live in. This is Love City in action and Spirit!”.
That spirit extended itself once again at the end of the Event. We had lots of fresh fish; johnny cake dough, and many drinks of all kinds left. Alvis Christian from JFLI told us that they were doing a booth at the Village and we immediately donated what was left to their Children's Fund Raising…all in the true community spirit that is Coral Bay.
We hope to do this event again next year-possibly at a different time as to not conflict with our Princess Show. We need and want to make this the best Traditional Community Party for all of of our community because it is a great opportunity to keep our Cultural Traditions alive.
This is something we must all work at preserving- extending each of our unique individual skills to the “Pot” of making an event like this available. Many a tourist came to say “I have never experienced anything like this in my life…this is SO wonderful. Thank You so much for giving us this truly unique experience- our children will never forget this”. That says it all. This Fish Fry raised approximately $2,000.00 to be used for Coral Bay Community needs. More important than the funds raised-it brought us together as a Community to celebrate Tradition and fellowship.
From the CBCC, Thanks to everyone for making this fishfry possible.
CBCC Board Member