Residents young and old enjoyed the food fair and coronation including this year’s Festival Food Fair Honoree Floresa Henley, above, with St. John Administrator Leona Smith.
St. John Festival Queen 2013-2014 Khadijah Lee and St. John Festival Princess Faith Marie Sweeney stand with their court and fellow contestants as well as Governor John deJongh and Lieutenant Governor Greg Francis and his wife Cheryl at the St. John Festival Food Fair and Coronation ceremony on Sunday, June 23, at Frank Powell Park.
Residents of all ages from across the territory, along with tourists from around the globe and Governor John deJongh and Lieutenant Governor Greg Francis and his wife Cheryl, packed the Cruz Bay waterfront on Sunday afternoon, June 23, for the St. John Festival Food Fair and Coronation.
As residents noshed on local treats like kallalo soup, conch in butter sauce and johnny cake and pates and sipped local tamarind, sorrel and passionfruit juices, emcee Alicia Wells welcomed the crowd to the Frank Powell Park bandstand.
Pastor Carlyle Sampson welcomed everyone to enjoy the food and drinks, sights and sounds of St. John Festival in health and safety.
St. John Festival Queen 2011-2012 delivered rousing performances of both the V.I. March and U.S. National Anthem and welcomed the crowd to the official food fair and coronation ceremony.
Food Fair Honoree Floresa “Flo” Henley was decked out in beautiful madras and sat in a position of honor under the bandstand — directly between Governor John deJongh and Lieutenant Governor Greg Francis.
Originally from Tortola, Henley moved to St. John when she was a young woman, finding work at Roy Sewer’s laundromat. Henley worked for the Department of Human Services for 38 years before retiring. She spent 25 years working for Caneel Bay part-time as well.
Henley is a member of the St. John Methodist Church who has attended every single St. John Festival and can be relied upon for anything that is asked of her, explained St. John Festival and Cultural Organization committee member Leona Smith.
“Flo remembers when St. John Festival was held for only one day in what is now Winston Wells ball field,” said Smith.
In 2005, St. John Festival revelers enjoyed Henley-Ville as Henley was the Festival Village Honoree. This year, the Festival and Cultural Committee chose to honor her for her dedication to Food Fair each year.
“The Festival Committee believes in giving you your flowers and your plaques and your honors while you are still with us,” said Wells. “And that’s why we are here telling you how much we appreciate you.”
Henley was awarded a beautiful tropical flower arrangement, a plaque and a U.S. Congressional Certificate of Recognition from Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, who was also in attendance.
V.I. Senate President Shawn Michael Malone encouraged the crowd to enjoy the festivities safely.
Francis called his wife Cheryl to stand up for a personal recognition.
“We are celebrating 38 years of marriage and counting,” said the lieutenant governor.
Francis encouraged the audience to take part in all the different Festival activities while staying safe and not taking part in any violence.
“Enjoy this celebration of our culture,” said Francis. “Get out there and try our food and dance to our music. But we want to keep this violence-free.”
“Let’s keep this positive,” said the lieutenant governor. “Let’s showcase how we want to be. This is Love City, so let’s show that love.”
The Love City Pan Dragons played a few tunes to the delight of the crowd as the dignitaries gathered at the base of the bandstand stairs for the official crowning and cutting of the ribbon to open St. John Food Fair 2013.
St. John Festival Princess Faith Marie Sweeney and St. John Festival Queen Khadijah Lee received their impressive crowns and regally waved to the crowd surrounded by their court.
Standing with deJongh and Francis, Lee and Sweeney cut the bright red ribbon at the Frank Powell Park bandstand and officially kicked off this year’s food fair. Both Sweeney and Lee gave brief remarks to the crowd and thanked the St. John Festival and Cultural Organization for their hard work and dedication.
The crowd was thrilled by the Quadrille skills of the young Hibiscus Cultural Dancers troupe, who demonstrated two delightful numbers.
“We must say thanks to Flo,” Governor deJongh told the crowd. “Let’s all have fun and be safe.”
Following a closing prayer by Pastor Sampson, the crowd went back to eating and drinking while waiting for the late afternoon Festival Boat races to get underway.