It’s Festival time on St. John as Festival Village honoree Clifton Ashley Boynes Sr., above second from right, cuts the ribbon opening Tuckerville as this year’s St. John Festival Queen and Festival Princess look on.
The joy on Festival Village honoree Clifton Ashley Boynes Sr.’s face was palpable as he made the rounds Friday evening, June 29, prior to the Village’s official opening. Friends, family members and a crowd of about 30 of Boynes’ Charlotte Amalie High School class of 1962 classmates were on hand to support the longtime boat captain as Festival Village — this year dubbed “Tuckerville” in a nod to Boynes’ nickname — was officially opened in his honor.
The Love City Pan Dragons entertained the crowd, a good mix of locals and tourists, before the opening ceremony began. Dignitaries like Senator at Large Craig Barshinger and Senate President Ronald Russell mingled with Village-goers prior to the opening ceremony.
“St. John Festival is different,” said Russell. “You get a whole different experience here.”
“We have all the pageantry, but it’s also intimate and feels like a hometown celebration,” Barshinger added.
Getting Boynes to agree to such an honor was no easy feat, Festival Organization chair Jane Johannes told the crowd.
“He gave us the runaround for years and years,” said Johannes. “This year, I said ‘We have to do something for Ashley.’”
Johannes spoke of Boynes’ love of St. John and his willingness to go out of his way to help anyone.
Boynes has been a licensed boat captain for more than 40 years and owns Inter-Island Boat Services, which he still manages today. In the past, Boynes had his own booth in Festival Village.
The Festival Village honoree was given various gifts during the opening ceremony, including a certificate of special Congressional recognition from Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, which was delivered by Monique Watson of the delegate’s office as Christensen was unable to make it to the ceremony.
Boynes was joined on stage by his wife of 46 years, Lydia, along with his mother, Vashti Boynes, who was chosen as the Food Fair honoree 13 years ago.
“We’ve got the freshest food, the best drinks and the friendliest people,” Boynes told the crowd. “Rub elbows with anybody here tonight and you’ll see how loving and friendly we are.”
Following the pomp and circumstance, Boynes and island dignitaries made their way to the Customs parking lot entrance to cut the ribbon and officially open Tuckerville.
“I want you to behave yourselves,” Boynes shouted with a large smile just prior to cutting the ribbon.
With the official opening, fryers started to sizzle, hot foods and cold drinks were served up, and the party officially began.
Just down the street from Festival Village, the Children’s Village, sponsored by the St. John Rotary, also opened up Friday night. Carnival-themed games, treats like popcorn, and plenty of prizes kept kids entertained, while children also flocked to the assortment of bouncy houses set up in the V.I. National Park ball field.
Festival Village and the Children’s Village are open nightly through Wednesday night, July 4.