Category: Island Roots

Key West Celebrates Its Island Roots May 19 and 20

Because it’s an election year, Green Turtle Cay’s Island Roots Heritage Festival is on hiatus for 2017.

But the celebrations will go on in Key West, where they’re holding an event next weekend to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first Island Roots Heritage Festival, held in 1977.

Key West celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Island Roots Heritage Festival on May 19 and 20, 2017.

Alton Lowe and Michelle Roberts of Green Turtle Cay present Key West Mayor Charles McCoy with the New Plymouth flag at the original Island Roots Heritage Festival – May 1977.

The Key West event kicks off on Friday night, May 19th, with a performance by the Barefoot Man and his band at Two Friends Patio Restaurant.

The Barefoot Man (George Nowak) and his band will perform at the Island Roots Heritage Festival in Key West May 19 and 20

On Saturday May 20th, the fun goes from noon until 11:00 pm at the Truman Waterfront Park Field. There will be carnival rides and music, including a performance by children from the Bahama Village Music Program. A variety of vendors will sell food, beverages and island-inspired crafts, and I hear there may even be a Junkanoo rush!

If you’re interested in tracing your own island roots, you won’t want to miss the presentation by Peter Roberts of the Bahamas DNA Project. Peter will have DNA kits available for those who would like to be tested.

Peter Roberts of the Bahamas DNA Project

The sister city relationship between Key West and Green Turtle Cay — first proclaimed in 1977 — will be reaffirmed, and the evening will wrap up with another performance by the Barefoot Man.

Bahamian Member of Parliament George Smith presents the Sister City proclamation to Key West Mayor Charles McCoy – May 1977.

General admission for adults is $5, and includes a wristband so folks can come and go from the event all day. Children will be admitted free, but will still receive a keepsake wristband.

For more details, visit the event’s Facebook page.

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Green Turtle Cay's Island Roots Heritage Festival Wins Cacique Award

Congratulations to Green Turtle Cay’s Island Roots Heritage Festival organizing committee, who were recognized with a Cacique Award in Nassau April 8.

Congratulations to the organizing committee of Green Turtle Cay's Island Roots Heritage Festival on winning a Cacique Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations who contribute towards the Bahamian tourist industry. (Photo by Ruth Saunders.)

Annabelle Roberts Cross (left) and Trina Cooper of the Island Roots Heritage Festival with their Cacique Award. (Photo: Ruth Saunders)

The Cacique Awards recognize individuals and organizations who positively impact the Bahamian tourism industry. The award was accepted by current festival committee chairperson, Annabelle Roberts Cross.

Last Call for Tickets to "An Evening To Remember" January 7 on GTC

Last Call for Tickets to "An Evening To Remember" January 7 on Green Turtle CayIf you haven’t yet bought tickets for An Evening to Remember, taking place at Bluff House Beach Resort & Marina on January 7, you’ve got less than two weeks! We need to provide a final headcount a week before the event, meaning tickets will only be sold until December 31. No tickets will be available for purchase at the door.

An Evening to Remember, a 40th anniversary celebration and fundraiser for Green Turtle Cay’s Albert Lowe Museum, will include:

What Do You Call Your Great-Grandmother?

In our family, great-grandmothers were called Gan Gan. It’s what all the kids of my generation called our great-grandmother, May Curry, and it’s what all my cousins’ kids called my grandmother, Lurey (Curry) Albury. We never knew where the term originated — I think we all assumed it was something unique to our family.

My Gan Gan – Marion Mayfield (Gates) Curry

Daily Photo – July 4, 2016

Museum Monday Photo - Little House by the Ferry

Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas

Bahamian artist and historian Alton Lowe and Michelle Roberts of Green Turtle Cay present the New Plymouth flag to Key West Mayor Charles McCoy during the first Island Roots Heritage Festival, held November 1977 in Key West.

During 2016, in honour of the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Albert Lowe Museum, each Monday’s daily photo will be a historic image from Green Turtle Cay or Abaco.

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Wreckers, Rogues and Rebels: Our Adventurous Abaco Ancestors

I always look forward to Green Turtle Cay’s Island Roots Heritage Festival, but this year, I’m even more excited than usual.

13010848_10153753541368500_8267926738831053579_nFirst, I love the theme: Adventure, Enterprise and Infamy. Given the cay’s quaint and relatively conservative atmosphere, it’s hard to believe that some of our Abaconian ancestors were pirates. Many were wreckers. Others made illicit fortunes as blockade runners and bootleggers. I’m really looking forward to exploring the more adventurous (and, in some cases, infamous) sides of our Abaco forefathers.

Speaking of forefathers, if you’d like to know more about yours, the Genealogy Research Center (across from the Gospel Chapel) will be open throughout the festival. It’s a cool, quiet place to research your own Abaco ancestry and get to know some of the Bahamas’ best genealogists.

And, as always, the weekend will be full of Bahamian cuisine, crafts and entertainment, including performances by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force Marching Band, Julien Believe, Green Turtle Cay’s own Gully Roosters, the Sax Man, Sawyerboy and the New Entry Band. And of course, two of my favourites – the plaiting of the Maypole and Junkanoo.

Beyond all this, however, there’s another reason I’m excited about this year’s festival — for the first time, I’ll be giving a presentation as part of the festival lecture series.

Dr. Peter Roberts, of the Bahamas DNA Project, at the Island Roots Heritage Festival, Abaco, Bahamas.

Peter Roberts, of the Bahamas DNA Project, during his presentation at the Island Roots Heritage Festival.

Having attended lectures about Bahamian history, local conservation efforts and genealogy at past Island Roots Heritage Festivals, I’ve found them all to be interesting, entertaining and informative. The lectures are one of my favourite parts of the festival, which is why I’m so excited to be able to present one!

Entitled “Our Wrecking Ancestors: Scoundrels or Saviours?” my presentation takes place at 3:00 pm on Saturday, May 7, at the Catechist George Reckley Hall at St. Peter’s Church, across from Settlement Point.

In conducting research for the book about GTC history on which I’m currently working, I’ve developed a fascination with wrecking — arguably Green Turtle Cay’s first real industry. While some viewed wreckers as saviours, providing life-saving aid to the crews of foundering vessels, many saw them as little more than glorified pirates.

Either way, there’s no denying the vital role that wrecking played in establishing and shaping New Plymouth and other Abaco settlements. As part of my presentation, I’ll share some of the interesting tales — some amusing, others terrifying — I’ve uncovered about wrecking in Abaco.

Other lecturers scheduled for the 2016 festival series include:

  • Peter Roberts of the Bahamas DNA Project, will teach us how to use DNA and WikiTree to trace our Bahamian ancestry. (I attended Peter’s presentation on this topic at last year’s festival, and found it to be extremely helpful with my genealogical pursuits)
  • Shane Cash, history teacher at Forest Heights Academy, will provide an overview of the history of piracy, wrecking, blockade running and bootlegging in the Bahamas.

And for the full schedule of events for the 2016 Island Roots Heritage Festival weekend, click HERE.

Hope to see you there!

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Daily Photo – March 28, 2016

Green Turtle Cay residents "Plait the Maypole", an old English tradition, at the first Island Roots Heritage Festival, 1977

Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum

It’s Museum Monday. The above photo was taken at the first Island Roots Heritage Festival, held in Key West and Green Turtle Cay in 1977. In this image, young Bahamian women “plait the Maypole”, an old English tradition. Symbolizing the merging of their British past and Bahamian future, half the women wear the colours of the Union Jack — red, white and blue. The others wear aquamarine, gold and black, the colours of the (then) new Bahamian flag.

GTC 101: Playing Here (Arts & Culture)

This is the eighth post in the series Green Turtle Cay 101: Guide to Getting Here, Staying Here, Dining Here and Playing Here.

When most folks think of Green Turtle Cay, they envision pristine beaches, clear waters and warm, tropical breezes. And certainly, the island has these in abundance. But it also boasts a surprisingly rich cultural life.

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Remember, Remember! The 5th of November

More likely than not, if you grew up in the Bahamas, you know the significance of this English verse:

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, guy fawkes

Guy Fawkes (1570 – 1606)

“Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!”

Though the Bahamas gained independence from England more than 40 years ago, a great deal of our culture remains steeped in the traditions of our British ancestors.

One of these traditions is Guy Fawkes Night.

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