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St. Croix’s Mango Melee Festival Draws Enthusiastic Crowds to Botanical Garden

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Children in the 12 and under Mango Eating Competition prepare to begin, as crowds watch from the hill. By TSEHAI ALFRED, V.I. CONSORTIUM

The 28th annual Mango Melee attracted hundreds of Virgin Islanders to the St. George Village Botanical Garden on St. Croix this Sunday. The event celebrated the beloved fruit with various activities, including the popular mango eating competition and the “Mango Dis, Mango Dat” food contest, while also supporting local vendors and organizations.

The highlight of the festival was undoubtedly the mango eating competition, which saw participants from both within and outside the Virgin Islands. Noel Mendez, originally from Puerto Rico and now residing in New Jersey, emerged as the winner of the 13 and up category. When asked by host Positive Nelson where he learned to eat mangoes so proficiently, Mendez replied, “I’m originally from Puerto Rico so in our country, we eat a lot of mangoes.”

In the 12 and under category, Arianna Sage took home the top prize, inspired by her mother to compete. Sage confidently described her winning strategy of swiftly dropping her plate once she finished the mangoes as “a boss move.” Her victory earned her gift certificates from local businesses including Dodat St. Croix Toys and Souvenirs, Sorbetiere Homemade Sorbet & Ice Cream, and Shupe’s on the Boardwalk.

Local vendors also found the event to be a valuable opportunity for their businesses. Akeem McIntosh, founder of Vibez Natural, a skincare and haircare brand, shared that Mango Melee was the first event he vended at when he started his business in 2019. “Mango Melee has been a staple in my years; I have to do Mango Melee every year,” McIntosh stated. He highlighted the importance of community events on St. Croix, suggesting a new nickname for the island: “The Land of Many Festivals.”

Evelyn Anderson, owner of Ms. Anderson Jewelry, participated in the festival for the fourth time as a vendor, despite her decades-long business experience. “I fed my kids off of this and paid my rent most of my life,” Anderson said. Although she described the business as slow midway through the event, she remained hopeful for an increased turnout later in the day. “Today it’s hot, it’s a little quiet, but hopefully it picks up more. People will be out here,” she remarked.

However, not all vendors had positive experiences. Rita Shiverton, a seasoned food vendor who has participated in the festival for 27 years, expressed concerns about the new placement of food vendors in a former parking lot area, away from the shade. “We used to be over there where the trees are. I think we deserve to be back there, not in the sun,” Shiverton said. She noted that the heat and lack of shade not only reduced foot traffic to her stand but also affected her food preparation. For the first time, she did not sell out, which she believed was influenced by the location change and possibly racial factors. “You see any white person here selling?” she pointed out, suggesting a racial bias in vendor placement. Reflecting on the event, Shiverton emphasized the community’s role in its success, “It’s up to us if we want to come because if we ain’t a part of it, it wouldn’t be like this.”

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Entertainment

Must-See Theatrical Performances in the USVI

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The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) are not only a paradise for beach lovers but also a vibrant hub for cultural and artistic expression. Among the many attractions, the islands offer a thriving theatrical scene that draws both locals and tourists. Here are some must-see theatrical performances and venues in the USVI that promise an unforgettable experience.

Reichhold Center for the Arts, St. Thomas

The Reichhold Center for the Arts stands as the premier performance venue in the USVI. Located on the campus of the University of the Virgin Islands, this center hosts a diverse range of performances, including theater, dance, and music. The venue’s mission is to preserve and enhance the artistic heritage of the Virgin Islands, making it a cultural cornerstone for the community​​.

Pistarckle Theater, St. Thomas

Pistarckle Theater is another key player in the USVI’s theatrical landscape. This community theater is known for producing a variety of plays ranging from classic to contemporary. The theater also offers educational programs and workshops, contributing significantly to the local arts scene. Attending a performance at Pistarckle Theater is a great way to experience local talent and creative storytelling.

Caribbean Community Theatre, St. Croix

Located in St. Croix, the Caribbean Community Theatre (CCT) has been entertaining audiences for decades. CCT stages a broad array of productions, including dramas, comedies, and musicals. Their commitment to fostering local talent is evident in their diverse seasonal line-ups and community engagement efforts​.

St. John School of the Arts, St. John

The St. John School of the Arts is not just an educational institution but also a venue for regular performances. The school frequently hosts events featuring students and guest artists, showcasing a blend of theatrical and musical talents. Their performances often highlight the rich cultural tapestry of the Virgin Islands.

Unique Theatrical Experiences

For those seeking unique theatrical experiences, several smaller venues and events offer intimate and innovative performances.

  • The Beach Bar in St. John frequently hosts live music and theatrical performances that merge the scenic beauty of the island with cultural entertainment​.
  • Neptune’s Lookout and The Windmill Bar provide historic and picturesque settings for live performances, often featuring local musicians and traditional USVI music​.

Annual Festivals and Special Events

The USVI’s annual festivals often include theatrical components that are worth attending. Events such as the St. John Celebration and various cultural festivals across the islands feature theatrical performances, storytelling, and reenactments that reflect the islands’ heritage and traditions.

Tips for Attending Theatrical Performances in the USVI

  • Check Event Calendars: Venues like the Reichhold Center and Pistarckle Theater often update their schedules online. Websites like VisitUSVI and local event calendars are great resources to stay informed about upcoming performances​ .
  • Book in Advance: Popular performances can sell out quickly, so it’s advisable to book your tickets in advance.
  • Explore Local Talent: Many performances feature local artists who bring unique perspectives and talents to the stage. Supporting these events contributes to the vibrant cultural scene of the USVI.

Whether you’re a theater enthusiast or just looking to experience the cultural side of the USVI, the islands’ theatrical offerings provide enriching and entertaining experiences that should not be missed.

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Entertainment

Outdoor Cinema: Summer Film Screenings in USVI

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This summer, the U.S. Virgin Islands are set to host a variety of outdoor film screenings, bringing communities together under the stars for a unique cinematic experience. Whether you’re a local resident or a visiting tourist, these screenings provide a fantastic opportunity to enjoy free movies in picturesque settings across the islands.

A Summer of Cinematic Adventures

The outdoor film series will feature a mix of classic and contemporary films, catering to diverse tastes. From beloved family-friendly animations to critically acclaimed dramas and blockbuster hits, there’s something for everyone. These events are perfect for families, couples, and friends looking to enjoy an evening outdoors while watching a great film.

Venues and Schedule

Screenings will be held at various iconic locations throughout the islands. The lush landscapes and stunning beach views provide the perfect backdrop for these open-air cinemas. Some notable venues include:

  1. Cruz Bay, St. John: Known for its vibrant community and beautiful beaches, Cruz Bay will host several film nights, offering a relaxed atmosphere for attendees.
  2. Frederiksted, St. Croix: This historic town’s waterfront will serve as a scenic venue, enhancing the viewing experience with its charming surroundings.
  3. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas: The bustling capital will feature screenings in its parks and open spaces, making it accessible for residents and visitors alike.

Each location will have designated areas where attendees can bring blankets and lawn chairs to set up for the evening. Screenings typically start at sunset, but it’s recommended to arrive early to secure a good spot.

Featured Films

The lineup includes a mix of genres to appeal to all age groups and preferences. Some highlights include:

  • “Encanto”: This enchanting Disney film, filled with vibrant music and heartwarming stories, is perfect for families.
  • “Black Panther”: A modern classic that combines action, adventure, and a powerful narrative, ideal for an exhilarating night out.
  • “La La Land”: This romantic musical drama offers a nostalgic trip through Hollywood, making it a great choice for date night.
  • “The Greatest Showman”: With its captivating music and inspiring story, this film is sure to entertain audiences of all ages.

Tips for Attendees

To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience, here are some tips for attendees:

  • Arrive Early: Popular screenings can attract large crowds, so getting there early will help you find a good spot.
  • Bring Essentials: Pack a blanket, lawn chair, and some snacks or a picnic. Don’t forget insect repellent and a light jacket for when the temperature drops after sunset.
  • Stay Informed: Follow local community boards and social media pages for updates on the film schedule and any changes due to weather conditions.

Community and Cultural Impact

These film screenings not only provide entertainment but also foster community spirit and cultural engagement. They offer a platform for local filmmakers to showcase their work and for residents to enjoy high-quality films without the need for expensive cinema tickets. Additionally, these events encourage people to spend more time outdoors, appreciating the natural beauty of the islands.

Conclusion

The summer film screenings in the U.S. Virgin Islands are a must-attend event this season. Whether you’re looking to relax with a family-friendly movie or enjoy a date night under the stars, these outdoor cinemas offer a perfect blend of entertainment and community spirit. So grab your blanket, prepare your picnic, and get ready for an unforgettable summer of films in the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands.

For more information on schedules and venues, stay tuned to local event listings and community announcements.

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Entertainment

Top Music Events in the Virgin Islands This Season

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The Virgin Islands are gearing up for an exciting season of music events that will captivate residents and visitors alike. Here’s a detailed look at the top upcoming music events from November 2024 onwards.

Coral Bay Thanksgiving Regatta

For a blend of music and sailing, the Coral Bay Thanksgiving Regatta on November 30, 2024, in St. John is a perfect choice. Primarily a sailing event, the regatta features lively after-parties with live music, making it a great way to experience the island’s nautical and musical culture​​.

Crucian Coconut Festival

From December 6 to 8, 2024, the Crucian Coconut Festival at the Bethlehem Sugar Factory in St. Croix celebrates all things coconut. Alongside culinary competitions and craft vendors, the festival includes live music that captures the island’s vibrant spirit. This event is ideal for enjoying local food, crafts, and entertainment​.

St. Croix Christmas Boat Parade

On December 14, 2024, Christiansted Harbor lights up with the St. Croix Christmas Boat Parade. This festive event features boats adorned with lights and decorations, creating a stunning visual display on the water. Accompanied by live music, caroling, and fireworks, it’s a magical way to celebrate the holiday season in the Virgin Islands​.

Paradise Jam

In November 2024, basketball enthusiasts can look forward to Paradise Jam, held at the University of the Virgin Islands. This men’s and women’s NCAA tournament not only offers thrilling sports action but also vibrant musical performances and entertainment throughout the event, making it a must-visit for sports and music fans alike​.

USVI Charter Yacht Show

From November 8 to 11, 2024, the USVI Charter Yacht Show in St. Thomas will showcase luxury vessels with a backdrop of live music and entertainment. This event draws yacht enthusiasts and professionals from around the world, offering a blend of nautical excellence and musical enjoyment​​.

These music events highlight the rich cultural tapestry of the Virgin Islands, offering both residents and visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the islands’ rhythmic beats and vibrant festivities. Be sure to mark your calendars and experience the unique sounds of the Virgin Islands this season.

By attending these events, you will not only enjoy great music but also support local communities and the vibrant culture of the Virgin Islands. From the tranquil beaches of St. John to the bustling harbors of St. Croix, the Virgin Islands offer a diverse and enriching musical journey that is sure to create unforgettable memories.

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