Last seen in December of 2019, the reboot of the Ministry of Tourism’s (MOT) Annual Food and Craft Festival in Eleuthera, hosted in partnership with One Eleuthera’s Center for Training and Innovation (CTI) on the grounds of The Retreat Hotel and Farmer’s Table Restaurant in Rock Sound on Saturday, January 28th, 2023, from 10am until 10pm in the evening, was one that came together in just the right way.
The event brought together local Eleutheran artisans selling high quality, authentic craft goods, including shell craft, jewelry of local materials, knitted and crocheted creations, professional strawwork designs, novelties and more, with food vendors offering an array of local delicacies – like freshly roasted local corn and tastes of resident bush teas to more traditional fare. Artisans and food vendors enjoyed a steady flow of customers throughout the day and evening. Crowds of local residents as well as visiting tourists, filtered through the thoughtfully laid out venue, with booths that wound around the backdrop of CTI’s pool deck, restaurant courtyard and spacious hotel grounds, with ample parking. People from all over Eleuthera came out and enjoyed the family-friendly cultural celebration.
A professional stage hosted the energetic talent of local entertainers later into the evening, including the local New Vision Band and performer Nishie L. S. As daylight melded into the Saturday’s early evening, fire dancers – Blaze and Sparkle of the ‘Fire Goddess’ troupe wowed the swelling crowd. Local seamstress and designer, Verda Gardiner, showcased colourful fashions, custom-made for the evening, with models traversing the perimeter of CTI’s pool during the show. An energetic junkanoo rushout capped the event, which organizers described as highly successful.
Prescott Young, General Manager with the Ministry of Tourism for Eleuthera, commented on the festival as it was ongoing, saying, “I feel great about the event. I’m not just seeing locals, I’m also seeing visitors. We really want people who come here to experience what is unique and different about us. I think this venue is ideal. It has the space we were looking for. It has the atmosphere where we can bring people together, and it also has the perfect backdrop… We feel that this is the ideal area that we can choose to accomodate the amount of people that we want, and to also have all the items on our list that we want to use, to make sure that our delivery and impact is of a high standard.”
Pairing up with One Eleuthera/CTI was just right said Mr. Young, “The reason for partnering with CTI is because we know that they are all about sustainability and if the Islands of The Bahamas are to grow, and to be sustainable over the years – we need to find stakeholders who share the same vision that we have, and who can assist us. Alone, the Ministry of Tourism only has a certain reach – but through partnerships and joint ventures with other people, our reach will definitely be greater. So, we thought that CTI would be the perfect fit for us.”
The team from MOT’s Governor’s Harbour office, who Mr. Young said made it all happen, led by Office Manager, Mrs. Glenda Ingraham – also included: Samantha Fox, Bernadette Richards, Karen Rolle, and Doria Forbes.