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New Guidelines for Event Signage at Fort Christian Announced

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Fort Christian in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Fort Christian, the iconic structure in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, will now see its event organizers navigating a new requirement: obtaining approval from the Historical Preservation Committee for any signage to be displayed on the premises. This directive stems from an initiative by the Division of Libraries, the fort’s overseeing body, aiming to maintain the integrity of this historical site.

At a recent meeting, the STT-STJ Historical Preservation Committee, led by Chair Akil Petersen, reviewed applications for signage at upcoming events. Among these was Melvin Romney’s submission for Fort Fete Virgin Islands, an event heralding the start of the St. Thomas Carnival season. Romney’s plan involves non-invasive methods to affix signs, ensuring the fort’s structure remains unaltered.

The committee’s discussion revealed a diversity of views. While the idea of utilizing the fort for public celebrations received support, Sean Krigger, director of the State Historical Preservation Office, expressed concerns over potential impacts on the fort’s ancient fabric. He noted new cracks in the building’s structure and urged caution regarding noise levels, given their potential effects on the historic edifice.

Despite these worries, Romney highlighted the careful considerations made in previous years regarding sound levels and the post-event condition of the fort, ensuring no harm comes to the historic site. He emphasized the cultural respect shown in event themes, like the previous year’s madras theme and the current year’s hibiscus inspiration.

Kurt Marsh, another committee member, raised concerns about the structural integrity of historic buildings like Fort Christian, especially in the face of large-scale events. He stressed the importance of maintaining these structures, which the Virgin Islands government has historically neglected, and the need for intentional space reclamation.

The committee approved Romney’s application, as well as another for a dancehall party, emphasizing the delicate balance between supporting local entrepreneurs and preserving historical sites. Suggestions for regular monitoring of the building’s condition, especially in light of events featuring bass-heavy music, were made to ensure ongoing preservation efforts.

This new oversight by the Historical Preservation Committee underscores a commitment to protecting the cultural heritage of Fort Christian while accommodating community events, a balance vital for the preservation and vibrant use of historic spaces in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Culture

Virgin Islands Paté Festival: A Celebration of Culture, Community, and Cuisine

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The Virgin Islands Paté Festival, now in its second year, has quickly become a cherished event in St. Croix, celebrating the rich culinary traditions and vibrant culture of the region. Held at the Agricultural Fairgrounds, this year’s festival promises a day filled with family-friendly activities, live music, and, of course, a variety of delicious patés.

The festival, which runs from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on June 22, is organized by SMT Enterprise and Laced Legacy. It aims to provide a fun and safe environment for attendees of all ages. Admission fees are modest, with children aged 6-12 and seniors 65 and up paying $5, adults aged 13-64 paying $10, and children under 5 entering for free​​.

Patés, a beloved local delicacy, take center stage at this festival. These savory pastries are known for their crispy, crunchy dough filled with a variety of delicious fillings such as beef, chicken, saltfish, conch, or vegetables. The festival offers attendees the opportunity to sample different paté creations from various vendors, ensuring a unique culinary experience​.

In addition to food, the festival will feature live performances by local bands such as No Problemo, The TSK (Ten Sleepless Knights), and R&B artist Deri. Soca artist PUMPA and DJ Lips International will also be performing, creating a lively atmosphere throughout the day. The Guardians of Culture Moko Jumbies, known for their stilt-walking performances, will entertain the crowd with their skills​.

One of the festival highlights is the Best Paté Competition, where judges will sample and evaluate patés in categories like meat, seafood, and veggie. Winners will receive trophies, prizes, and bragging rights. There will also be a People’s Choice award for the best paté, in honor of the late Rosalia Ayala, a celebrated local chef known for her exceptional patés. This award allows festival-goers to vote for their favorite vendor, adding an interactive element to the event​.

Craft vendors will also be present, offering a range of local goods, and there will be numerous attractions for children. The festival aims to support the local community and businesses, with sponsors including Viya, Neighborhood Pharmacy, and the Department of Tourism, among others​​.

The Virgin Islands Paté Festival not only celebrates a beloved culinary tradition but also fosters community spirit and cultural pride. With its diverse offerings and inclusive environment, the festival is poised to become a staple event in the Virgin Islands, eagerly anticipated by locals and visitors alike.

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2nd Annual Virgin Islands Paté Festival Set to Delight with Food, Fun, and Culture

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SMT Enterprise and Laced Legacy warmly invite the community to the 2nd annual Virgin Islands Paté Festival, a celebration of the cherished cultural delicacy, Paté. The family-friendly event, scheduled for June 22 from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm, promises a safe and entertaining atmosphere for vendors and attendees of all ages.

Admission and Activities

The festival offers affordable admission: $5 for children aged 6-12 and seniors 65 and up, and $10 for adults aged 13-64. Children under 5 can attend for free. This fee provides access to a day packed with activities and culinary delights.

Culinary Highlights

A highlight of the event is the array of Paté-making demonstrations by skilled vendors, offering attendees the chance to sample diverse Paté varieties. Alongside Patés, food vendors will serve a range of cultural dishes to enhance the culinary experience.

Entertainment Lineup

Festival-goers can enjoy performances by live bands such as No Problemo, The TSK (Ten Sleepless Knights), R&B artist Deri, and Caribbean Soca star PUMPA. DJ Lips International, Deh Brand, Bootlegacy, and MC Bogle will keep the energy high with a blend of contemporary and classic tunes. The Guardians of Culture Moko Jumbies will also entertain with their impressive stilt-dancing skills.

Competitions and Awards

The festival will host a Best Paté Competition, where judges will evaluate Patés in categories including meat, seafood, and veggie, with winners receiving trophies, prizes, and bragging rights. Additionally, the People’s Choice award will honor the best Paté, commemorating the late Rosalia Ayala, affectionately known as Rosa, who was a beloved figure in the Whim neighborhood. Attendees can vote for their favorite Paté vendor, and the winner will be decided by popular vote.

Acknowledgments

Special thanks go to the festival sponsors: Viya, Neighborhood Pharmacy, Twin City Dental & Dr. Chase Greep, Department of Tourism, Cruzan Rum, Virgin Islands National Guard, West Gyul, Doc’s Pepper Tonic, IB Designs, Virgin Islands Energy Office, Blue Mountain Water, East Gyul, Epok Signs & Banners, Island Thyme Charters, Hooked On Life Charters, FoodTown, Department of Agriculture, Plaza Extra East, Jelani Ritter, Das Ya Car Rental, WSTX Radio AM 970/FM 100.3, Crucian Gold, and Titan Gas Station.

Join in the festivities and experience a day filled with food, fun, and cultural enrichment at the 2nd annual Virgin Islands Paté Festival.

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Estate Whim Museum Recognized as One of America’s Most Endangered Historic Sites

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently unveiled its annual list of America’s 11 most endangered historic places, with the Estate Whim Museum in Frederiksted, St. Croix, earning a spot due to its significant yet vulnerable status.

Carol Quillen, president and CEO of the National Trust, emphasized the evolving recognition of American history, noting, “Our collective idea of American history has expanded to include those previously left at the margins. This year’s list reflects that broader perspective, recognizing sites across all U.S. territories as integral parts of our national narrative.”

The Estate Whim Museum’s history dates back to the Danish colonization of St. Croix, starting as a cotton and sugar plantation in 1743 and utilizing the labor of enslaved Africans until the 1848 emancipation sparked by a revolt. Post-emancipation, the site witnessed the 1978 Fireburn labor revolt. Acquired by the U.S. government in 1932 after the U.S. purchased the Virgin Islands, the 12-acre site has been preserved as a museum by the St. Croix Landmarks Society since 1954.

Today, the museum displays a range of artifacts, including Crucian furniture and decorative arts within its original sugar mills and slave quarters. These historic structures suffered extensive damage during Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. The ongoing recovery has been slow, forcing the museum to rely on temporary measures such as tarpaulins to shield the fragile structures crafted by 18th-century enslaved masons and carpenters.

The urgency of repairs is clear to the Landmarks Society, which is rallying support and resources for preservation. Highlighting the museum’s endangered status aims to inspire a collective effort to safeguard this crucial part of USVI history.

In tandem with the endangered listing, a new initiative promises potential restoration. “We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of the Virgin Islands’ Office of Disaster Recovery to fast-track the much-needed repairs to the museum properties,” explained Valencio Jackson, chair of the St. Croix Landmarks Society. The MOU positions the Office of Disaster Recovery as the project’s lead management entity.

Governor Bryan, who endorsed the MOU, expressed, “The Estate Whim Museum is not just a pivotal historical site but also a symbol of the resilience and spirit of our people. Let us advance together, strengthened by our past, as we restore and rejuvenate this cornerstone of Virgin Islands history.”

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