The first carnival was staged in 1912 during the final years of Danish occupation and lapsed during World War I. Revived in 1952; carnival has become the second largest festival in the Caribbean. A month-long series of dazzling pageants and talent shows is held to choose royalty to rein over the festival. Fun events such as a boat race, Greased Pig Contest and Toddlers Derby entertain everyone at the festivities. A series of elimination contests to crown top performers are called Calypso Tents. Calypsonions offer satirical commentary on the state of the islands, oftentimes mocking the shenanigans of politicians. Other popular events held during Carnival is j'ouvert, a morning jump up, a food fair presenting the islands’ best traditional eats and a competition to crown the King and Queen of the parade troupes. The children's and adult’s parade close the lively month with brilliantly costumed and decorated troupes and floats.
Carnival Village - or ‘the Village’ as it is locally referred to, is made up of 30 colorful booths that sell scrumptious native and Caribbean delicacies, exotic desserts and international culinary delights. Every year an honoree is selected, and their name is used in the title of the village. The grand opening of Carnival Village is filled with anticipation and ceremony as the ribbon is cut by Government officials along with Carnival Royalty and Carnival officials. Part of the Village embraces a center stage for entertainment where local and regional bands perform nightly. A children’s village usually located nearby with a Coney Island amusement rides.
Cultural Night - An event where various schools, organizations, groups, troupes and individuals perform on stage displaying various aspects of Virgin Islands tradition and culture. Visitors and residents get an insight into the past, present and future of Virgin Islands culture and some mainstays of Carnival. Entertainment includes Quadrille Dancers, Maypole Dancers, and the Tropical Masqueraders, theTraditional Indians, the Zulus and fire baton twirlers. Milo’s Kings, known for their cultural sound, provided musical entertainment throughout the night.
Cultural Fair is an exciting mix of local foods, drinks, plants, pastries, candies and colorful displays of arts and handmade crafts. The Cultural fair is made up of many small booths and tables. The booths and tables are set up by individuals, as fundraisers for local churches and schools and some are run by local restaurants. Tables are spread with beautiful tablecloths, laden with pots of crab and rice, kallalloo, roast pork, conch, fried fish, Johnny cakes, fried chicken, pates, tamarind & gooseberry preserves, cakes and tarts, in an eye catching display that says, “come over and have a taste.” There are original local crafts, such as handmade dolls, crocheted clothing, handmade jewelry, candles, etc. The fair officially opens at noon giving special recognition to the honoree, which was chosen for their participation and contributions to the Fair over the years. Government officials along with Carnival Royalty and Carnival officials are all in attendance, while participants anxiously await the announcement of the winners in such categories as native candies, cakes and pastries, plants, produce, arts and crafts, Special Food Contest and Best Dressed Fair participant. People arrive early to get the best of the savory dishes and other items, some of which will be packaged and sent to their relatives off island. Others come to the fair to have a good time, listening to the sweet sounds of local bands or Steelband. The Cultural Fair is certainly an event worth attending.
Traditional Games - The Traditional Games readily lends itself to wholesome family interaction. The Traditional Games had its genesis during the 1999 Carnival. Tee Toe Tum, Three Hole Nogle, Pudding, Hoople Race, Two-Wheel Barrow, among others, are games that offer a glimpse into the past. Thus, Introduced to playtime from the past, children are eager to participate in the games their elders played as youngsters.
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