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A cultural explosion is brewing

Festival of The Bahamas Islands expected to be a celebration of food, music, art and craft
  • Xan Xi Bethel, head designer of jewelry company Khepera’s Sun, is set to showcase her copper jewelry creation in addition to her hand-painted, 100 percent cotton bags at the Festival of the Bahama Islands in Saturday, June 29 at the Botanical Gardens. Khepera’s Sun is one of many local exhibitors to be on display at the festival. TNG FILE PHOTOS

  • Tingum Dem an’ Friends, will headline an all Bahamian concert displaying the musical talent of the islands during the Festival of the Bahama Islands.

Published: Jun 28, 2013

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A cultural explosion is brewing for the weekend and it’s centered around the 25th anniversary of Kalik and the 40th anniversary of The Bahamas and it’s the family-friendly Festival of The Bahama Islands, featuring dozens of vendors, live demonstrations and performances by artists, dancers, musicians, craftsmen and storytellers from across the archipelago.

The day-long party of “all things Bahamian” on Saturday, June 29, will be held at the Botanical Gardens, near historic Fort Charlotte and Clifford Park, a fitting backdrop for this year's commemoration, according to organizers.

“Kalik’s Festival of The Bahama Islands will celebrate our love for Bahamian music, food and entertainment and offer champions of Bahamian culture opportunities to showcase their contributions as a part of the Bahamian cultural experience,” said Kalik Brand Manager Jannifer Thurston.

The festival will be a full day of Junkanoo music and costume building demonstrations, quadrille dancing, jewelry making, painting, percussion musical performances, fashion shows, bush tea demonstrations, crab-catching and straw plaiting lessons, Cascarilla bark demonstration and more. The Royal Bahamas Police Force Band and the legendary Lassie Doh Boys are on tap for entertainment and a concert entitled “Celebrating 40 Years of Bahamian Music” featuring Tingum Dem an’ Friends is also lined up. The event will culminate with a Junkanoo rush out.

The 10-hour extravaganza of all things Bahamian will dominate the social scene with visitors and locals alike expected to flock to the Botanical Gardens for demonstrations, live performances, music, dance, crafts and foods from the islands, all representing elements of traditional Bahamian life.

Among the demonstrations will be the art of crab-catching.

"We were fortunate because we were able to get Anitra Colebrooke to do the crab-catching demonstration, and if ever you saw a woman who makes catching-crab fun and exciting, it's her," she said.

Catching crab is to Colebrooke what reeling in the slippery bonefish is to the fly fisherman or a birdie, one under par, on a par-3 hole is to a golfer, "just pure enjoyment,” she says. Ten years after her first crab-catching experience in Andros, she confesses she's still enchanted by “the lure of going crabbing.

Demonstrations and performances begin at noon and continue throughout the day with Robert Bain teaching quadrille dancing.

“Telling stories through dance and movement has been a part of Bahamian heritage for centuries,” said Bain, who is organizing three quadrille dances, including an authentic piece recorded by the Smithsonian Institute. “The first time I saw the quadrille performed was in 1983 by the Cat Island Mites, and I got goose bumps," said Bain, who's been an enthusiast ever since. "The tradition goes back hundreds of years. The slaves saw the masters perform the social dances and took it back to the field slaves who started to mimic the dance and create the same sounds that they heard."

In addition to Junkanoo costume making, straw plaiting, plaiting the maypole, Cascarilla bark demo, bush tea and other demonstrations, there will be music and dance throughout the day, leading off with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the legendary Lassie Doh Boys and a special performance organized by musician Fred Ferguson celebrating the past 40 years of Bahamian music. The hour-and-a-half long performance by local band Tingum Dem (to be broadcast live on ZNS at 8 p.m.) will include familiar tunes that have rocked The Bahamas from 1973 until now. Ferguson views the performance as a chance for The Bahamas to connect and recollect with music and experiences that have defined a generation of independent Bahamians.

“It is envisioned that this festival will be the first of its kind bringing together artisans from every major Bahamian island,” said Thurston. “This all-day festival will highlight Kalik’s 25 years of being the beer of The Bahamas and showcase culture, culinary delights and music from these islands.

The timing of the festival was set less than two weeks away from the country’s independence celebration, while Kalik celebrates a birthday of its own with a silver 25th anniversary. Thurston sees the dual celebration as added excitement for the event.

“It was the word ‘celebrate’ that inspired us," said Thurston. "Somebody said 'festival' and someone else said, it’s national, all the islands have to be represented, and someone else said, and it has to be family-oriented." The idea was born — a one-day, family fun and feast of food, dance, music, demonstrations and culture festival for all the islands with mini-celebrations and a massive cultural explosion in Nassau.

Doors open at 10 a.m. with the celebration’s official kick-off at 12 p.m. Tickets are $5 adults and $2 children.

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