A tryst with John Deere is what I expected when asked to cover the St. Croix 37th Agricultural and Food Fair – AGRIFEST – (or AgFest if you’re cool.) Feeling conflicted between the promise of sandy beaches with little parasols in tropical cocktails and the thought of having to find tractors sexy and inspiring, I hesitated about, oh, 10 seconds then ordered a new skimpy bikini.
A week later, I fly to the Virgin Islands, armed with hours of scientific research on agricultural implements and their attachments. John Deere and I are going to have a total love fest.
The St. Croix AgFest is a huge deal in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As soon as I land, I am whisked away to the opening reception at the Governor’s Mansion.
Talking about governors, here he is: the seventh Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Governor John deJongh. A muy sympatico laid back governor if you ask me.
After a few glasses of punch, I feel ready for the big day ahead of me.
The next morning, approaching the Fair venue, I realize that studying the engagement of the locking differential through the use of split breaks in a four-wheel drive tractor may have been a tad irrelevant, if not completely nerdy. The sun is shining on columns of colorfully clad families walking cheerfully towards the Fair grounds and this is starting to feel a lot like… a party! This will be work for the camera rather than the pen, the senses rather then the brain (pretty good news considering the gray cells seem to have migrated to another country.)
Inspired by the last Top Chef season, I decide to emulate Anthony Bourdain. Whatever sounds the weirdest, that’s what I’m eating. I end up with Goat Water (a creamy stew made of goat.) In all honesty, I think the goat water is an acquired taste, and not to sound unworldly but a Hamburger from McDonald’s begins to look real good after a few bites of the goat (plus you receive a complimentary toy with your Happy Meal and you get nada with the goat.)
All the women serving food wear traditional garb. I could use a headdress such as this one. I think it would make me look much taller.
Rastafarians everywhere! Some make this adorable little heart sign when you photograph them. I can only assume this is the Rasta way of saying “peace out mon.” Perhaps I’m completely mistaken and the sign means “you look like a weird little dudette” but hopefully not.
Some Rastas look very friendly,
some very wise.
Some appear just a tad less approachable (you’ll notice no trace of little “I heart you” sign going on there, just Rasta office weaponry.)
Some non-Rastafarians look downright as if they had emerged from the Dallas hood, bling and all… You just catch yourself scrutinizing the parking lot for the pimped car on hydraulics.
No worries. We are very well protected by the island popo who incidentally has a lot of problem not cracking up while posing for the photograph.
The St. Croix agents are a force to be reckoned with. They are fierce. They look mean. Do not mess with them.
At the Agfest, you can get a temporary tattoo which is cool for a woman but not so cool for a mon, I told Matthew, another travel writer, who seemed quite tempted by the experience.
Having heard about Matthew’s longing for a girly girl tattoo, a Moko Jumbie attempts to scare the evil spirits away from him.
The whole fair grounds is strewn with booths selling clothes, jewelry, artifacts, fabrics, music, and local products from the three islands.
Fresh local organic produce. As a rule, I never eat anything green unless it’s wasabi but sampling the products of the Virgin Island Sustainable Farm Institute, I was reminded of how fruits and vegetables are supposed to taste. Yummy for my tummy! I’d eat veggies if I lived on St. Croix. Until then, I’ll stick with sushi and Cocoa Puffs.
Music instruments and pots.
A photo booth!
At the end of the day, you could observe exhausted children sleeping in their mom’s arms… I, too, could have used a little nap by that time but then I would have missed…
Mister Suave. Perched on his bike, the dude was flirting with every women passing by. Sampling tomatoes? It’s all good but, eh, you have to keep your priorities straight, you know.
As I leave the Fair Grounds, the guy manning the entrance asks to have his portrait taken. He seems really cool. I have never ever seen such blown pupils in my life!
If you want a display of shiny modern agricultural machines, the Agricultural and Food Fair may not be for you. The AgFest is a cultural jewel and offers a perfect insight in the colorful Crucian lifestyle to tourists.
I would only perhaps recommend a Pious Nun over the goat water.