|A coco-nutty affair|
Guardian Lifestyles Reporter
Published: Mar 23, 2012
It will be a “coco-nutty” affair when the 14th annual Coconut Festival kicks off in Pelican Bay, Grand Bahama. What started out as a one-time attempt to create a settlement reunion for former residents of Pelican Bay has blossomed into a major event for the tiny settlement. This all day fun day will be held on Monday, April 9 at the Pelican Bay festival sight from 11 a.m. until evening.
The festival has grown from being a simple day of community get-togethers to a day of fun in the sun with visitors from around the world.
This coconut-fevered weekend is expected to be the best yet with coconut themed activities to get the family excited. Competitions like coconut barking, jelly eating contest, pass the coconut, coconut bowling and a coconut straw plaiting contest are a few of the many festive things to do at this affair. In keeping with the theme, festival-goers can expect a wide array of coconut infused food choices like coconut peas and rice, coconut chicken, coconut shrimp and crawfish and coconut glazed ribs.
Desserts made from coconut like cakes, tarts, jimmies, ice creams and duffs are also on the menu. And no truly Bahamian coconut festival can go without coconut beverages like sky juice, daiquiris and smoothies.
To keep the event hopping between all the games, food and water adventures, musical entertainment will be provided by Geno D, Avvy and the Grand Bahama Police Pop Band. Other cultural events like dances and exhibitions are also lined up to take place throughout the day.
“I am very excited about this event. In the midst of everything else happening it is still going strong and is a signature event in the Ministry of Tourism in Grand Bahama,” said Cathy Laing, founder of the Coconut Festival. “What makes this really different than typical island festivals is that people can get two experiences for the price of one with this event. Persons can fly into Grand Bahama to see the city life and then come on down and get a taste of a down home island experience in Pelican Bay all in one day. It will be well worth the while. Down here in eastern Grand Bahama it is quiet and tranquil. Not to mention the waters down here are just beautiful. So people can come and enjoy the games and activities, but can also slip away for a stroll or swim on the beach.”
Other attractions at the event will include a chef station, which will allow festival patrons to learn how to make their own coconut delicacies. They will be able to watch the chef demonstrations and use pre-arranged supplies to cook a dish. Coconut crafts will also be available like jewelry, hair clips, handmade cups, coconut pouches, Christmas ornaments, animal characters, piggy banks and pencil holders.
The Coconut Festival is expected to be a day of culture at its best. From the games and food to the live entertainment a culturally explosive day is in store.
There is nothing like catching the coconut fever for Gina Dillard. The festival lover discovered the Coconut Festival five years ago and has been going religiously ever since.
“The coconut festival must be one of the best kept secrets in the country when it comes to festivals right now. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time to discover this festival,” she said. “It is a ball of fun. It’s not just a drinking party like some festivals end up being. There are fun events from start to finish and the wonderful flavor of coconut is infused in everything. It is so good. The festival has definitely been growing steadily for years since I started to go and I expect it will be an even bigger and better event this year.”
Jordan Kemp, 28, has heard rave reviews about the festival from family and friends who have attended in previous years. He plans to make this year his first time at the festival and see if it lives up to the hype.
“I think it will be a good event. My family and friends have gone before and they loved it. I didn’t stop hearing about how good the games and the food was for weeks after they all went. I hope to go for the first time this year. I need a good relaxing weekend and this sounds right up my alley. It’s going to be fun, islandy and I can still rest. It sounds like a good time to me. It seems like something everyone can enjoy.”
Laing promises that the Coconut Festival will be fun-filled from start to finish. Over the years, people have come to look forward to this event as it has something for everyone in the family – from the games and food to the company and entertainment no one can leave empty-handed or unchanged.
The idea for the festival came from the fact that coconut trees were plentiful in the coastal settlement and it only made sense to use the indigenous product in new and exciting ways to attract visitors. She anticipates that the event will continue to grow and dreams that this “best kept secret” will eventually become a major national event that all Bahamians know and care about.
“The coconut festival will be dynamite. It is always a memory in the making. Nobody will want to miss it. You hear about it every year but I think more people need to just come on down to see what this is all about. You will not regret it. It will be a festival to remember,” said Laing.
When: Monday, April 9
Where: Festival site in Pelican Point
Time: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Cost: $2 – adults, Free admission – children 12 or younger