As part of St. Lucia’s 2016 independence celebrations, the Southern Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) will be hosting an International Food Fair and Banana Festival on February 21, 2016 at Vieux Fort’s Philip Marcellin Grounds.
The event will include culinary demonstrations by renown chefs, the cuisine of various countries, a banana exhibition pavilion providing a visual and interactive history of the banana from field to table, a menu of banana dishes, confectionery and drinks, and an entertainment package of music, dance, fashion, and cultural presentations.
The International Food Fair has been an annual flagship event of STDC since the corporation’s inception in 1998, and one many people nationwide looked forward to.
However, for reasons unclear, the event was discontinued in 2009. But with a rejuvenated membership body, a new Board of Directors and new management staff, STDC decided to not only resume the culinary event this year but to turn it into a bigger and better affair.
The Banana Festival as part of this year’s Food Fair represents one of the ways in which STDC is attempting to transform the food fair into a richer and more fascinating experience.
With the Banana Festival, STDC hopes to promote an understanding and appreciation of the importance of the banana fruit to human health and nutrition and to the socioeconomic and infrastructural development of St. Lucia.
STDC also hopes that the festival will help encourage the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables thereby increasing demand for local produce and helping to combat the high incident of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
The Banana Festival will include banana food and beverage bars and a creative arcade that will feature banana inspired clothing and art and crafts.
But perhaps the crowning glory of the Banana Festival is the banana pavilion, which will take patrons on a journey where, by means of physical exhibits, print images, 3d animations, and video presentations, they will learn and experience banana landscapes, the history of the banana, the history of the banana industry in St. Lucia, the journey of the banana from field to table, the many banana varieties, their myriad uses and byproducts, and their health and nutritional value.
Besides the Banana Festival and its pavilion, the International Food Fair will feature a wide variety of international food booths serving national dishes, and colorfully and ethically decorated and attended by hosts dressed in their national wear.
Patrons will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite international food booth on the basis of hospitality, quality of food, pertinent cultural information, and the use of ethnic décor.
Top chefs and southern based schools will add to the excitement as they show off their skills in culinary demonstrations or in friendly culinary competitions.
Photography booths will enable attendees (possibly in their national wear) to take memorable portraits against a background depicting an international setting, or a typical St. Lucia banana landscape, or a Vieux Fort scene.
A kids’ zone with bouncing castles, games, and banana crafts will cater for the enjoyment of children 10 and under. And to further enhance the International Food Fair experience, a main stage will feature dance and musical performances, a fashion show, and cultural presentations by various nationalities.
Established in 1998 under the St. Lucia Company’s Act, STDC is a non-profit, membership based, private organization with the mission to stimulate and coordinate the development of tourism in the south of St. Lucia, stretching from Praslin to Choiseul.
In terms of tourism, the International Food Fair and Banana Festival is part of an STDC strategy to establish a calendar of sporting, cultural, and entertainment events to compliment the South’s natural, historical and cultural attractions as visitor pull factors.
The annual International Food Fair can be expected to enhance the South’s tourism product and strengthen its culinary and hospitality sector.