Tag: Island Roots Heritage Festival

2018 Island Roots Heritage Festival Recap

Though I was stuck back in Los Angeles caring for Wrigley, my Green Turtle Cay friends did not disappoint when it came to keeping me updated about goings-on at the 2018 Island Roots Heritage Festival, and of course, taking some terrific photographs.

Weatherwise, the festival got off to a rocky start, with heavy rains on Friday, May 4, which led to the postponement of a number of events, including the opening ceremony.

Green Turtle Cay’s own Ronel Escarment performed as part of the festival’s opening ceremonies. (Photo: Mandy Roberts.)

Red, Wrong, Regretting

While I’m back in L.A., nursing a recuperating Wrigley, my husband Tom is holding down the fort at Fish Hooks. Here’s a guest post from him, with a timely warning for mariners.

The phrase “red, right, returning” has long been as basic to mariners as the other “three Rs” are to school children. The reminder to keep the red navigational marker off the boat’s right side when ‘returning’ from open water is the rule of thumb that ensures safe passage to harbours around the world.

But, now, as boaters head to Green Turtle Cay for this weekend’s Island Roots Heritage Festival, one skipper’s misfortune can be a timely lesson to others.

Get Your Island Roots Raffle Tickets Today!

As some of you may know, the 2018 Island Roots Heritage Festival is coming up on Green Turtle Cay May 4-6. This year, to help the festival organizing committee with fundraising (did you know it costs close to $50,000 to stage this event?!), I’ve taken on organizing and running a raffle.

A group of Green Turtle lovers and second homeowners, including Tom and me, got together and contributed funds with which to purchase some awesome prizes to be raffled off in support of the festival. They include:

78 Days Until Green Turtle Cay’s 2018 Island Roots Heritage Festival

After an election-year hiatus last year, Green Turtle Cay’s award-winning Island Roots Heritage Festival is back!

The festival organizing committee invites you to join us in Green Turtle Cay May 4-6, 2018 for a weekend celebrating our Loyalist roots and our Bahamian cuisine, entertainment, art and culture.

Photo courtesy of Mandy Roberts

Are You a Descendant of the First Families of Abaco?

Historian Betty Bruce and Artist Alton Lowe, founder of the Island Roots Heritage Festival

Forty years ago this week, the inaugural Island Roots Heritage Festival took place in Key West and then in Green Turtle Cay .

During the planning for the first Island Roots Festival, Key West historian Betty Bruce – whose ancestors were among those Abaco families who settled Key West – began gathering the names of other Floridians whose roots stretched across the Gulf Stream to the Bahama islands.

She posted a sign-up sheet in the Monroe County Public Library in Key West and put the word out.

Within just a few months, she had gathered several hundred names on a scroll, which now resides in the archives of the Albert Lowe Museum.

Reading through the scroll, you recognize many common Bahamian surnames, such as Pinder, Knowles, Kemp, Symonette and Moss, from the various Bahamian islands including Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, Harbour Island, Long Island, Nassau and Grand Bahama.

Who's Got Abaco Photos To Share?

Lately, I’ve had a few blog readers send me some really lovely photographs they’ve taken in Abaco. So, I’ve decided to start a Reader Photos feature.

Our inaugural LHBTF Reader Photo comes from Sara Parker, of England, whom I met a few years back at the Island Roots Heritage Festival. Thanks, Sara, for sharing!

Seagull at Sunset – Photo by Sara Parker

Got photos of Abaco you’d like to share? Send them to amanda(at)littlehousebytheferry(dot)com, and be sure to put “Reader Photo” in the subject line.

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.

Honouring the Shared Loyalist Heritage of New Plymouth and Key West

As we count down the days to the upcoming Island Roots Heritage Festival, I thought I’d take a look back at the very first Island Roots events, held nearly 40 years ago.

Planning the First Island Roots Festivals -- James Mastin, Betty Bruce and Alton Lowe

Planning the first Island Roots events — sculptor, James Mastin, historian, Betty Bruce and artist, Alton Lowe

The original Island Roots concept was conceived shortly after Bahamian artist and Green Turtle Cay resident Alton Lowe opened the Albert Lowe Museum in 1976.

The morning after the museum’s opening ceremonies, Florida historian Betty Bruce (whose own ancestors came from Green Turtle Cay) asked Alton what he had planned as a follow-up. As their conversation evolved, so did the idea of a festival that would honour the common Loyalist roots of the residents of Green Turtle Cay and Key West, Florida.

Program Schedule copyIn the late 18th century, having suffered  persecution in the aftermath of the American Revolution, many British Loyalists fled to the Bahamas, hoping to establish plantations. Sadly, many of these settlers were unprepared for the hardships of 18th century island living. When it became clear that the local soil was in fact unsuitable for large-scale farming, many packed up their belongings, their families and in some cases, even their houses, and returned to the U.S., where they helped establish Key West.

In the months following Betty and Alton’s original conversation, their idea gained popularity and plans began to take shape, both in Key West and on Green Turtle Cay.

A year later, in November 1977, Island Roots festivals were held in both communities.

More than thirty thousand people attended the Key West event, where they enjoyed art exhibits, a fashion show, a musical performance by the Royal Bahamian Police Band, a Junkanoo parade — and a slice of the world’s largest key lime pie.

Alton Lowe and Michelle Roberts of Green Turtle Cay present Key West Mayor, Charles McCoy with the New Plymouth flag

At the Key West festival, Alton Lowe and Michelle Roberts of Green Turtle Cay present local mayor, Charles McCoy, with the New Plymouth flag

In commemoration of their common heritage, and with the support of both governments, New Plymouth and Key West proclaimed themselves sister cities.

Bahamian MP, George Smith, presenting the sister city proclamation to Key West Mayor, Charles McCoy.

Bahamian MP, George Smith, presenting the sister city proclamation to Key West Mayor, Charles McCoy.

The celebrations continued the following day, as hundreds of visitors descended upon the New Plymouth settlement. The two-day inaugural Green Turtle Cay Island Roots Festival featured Bahamian music, dance and dramatic performances, a traditional Maypole plaiting and, of course, a Junkanoo rush.

Subsequent Island Roots festivities have been staged over the years and more recently, the Island Roots Heritage Festival has become an annual Green Turtle Cay event, celebrating New Plymouth’s Loyalist heritage and relationship with Key West, and reuniting Abaconians with family members from the U.S., Canada and beyond.

To learn more about the inaugural Island Roots Heritage Festivals, check out the current exhibit in the Wrecker’s Gallery at the Albert Lowe Museum.

All photos courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum.

Related: Island Roots: Celebrating All Things Abaco, Island Roots Festival: Bridging Past and Future, Celebrating Our Bahamian Culture: Island Roots Heritage Festival 2014

Celebrating Our Bahamian Culture: Island Roots 2014

Bahamian music legend, Eddie Minnis, at IRHF2013

Bahamian music legend, Eddie Minnis, at IRHF2013

Food. Music. Religion. Art. Politics. And of course, Junkanoo. Though the world knows us for breathtaking beaches, spectacular boating and fishing and some of the best diving on the planet, these are the things about which Bahamians are most passionate, the things that shape our collective identity. And, under the theme, “Celebrating Our Culture,” they’ll be saluted at this year’s Island Roots Heritage Festival, being held May 2-4 in Green Turtle Cay.

Junkanoo 4

Junkanoo Performer, IRHF 2011

Though the event program is still being finalized, the festival committee says this year’s Island Roots will feature a diverse selection of Bahamian musicians, artists, artisans and authors, popular local dishes and culinary delights, traditional island games, informative displays and presentations and a family tree research center.

New 4

A festival tradition — plaiting the Maypole — IRHF 2013

Island Roots allows visitors to experience authentic Bahamian culture and gives Bahamians the opportunity to learn about and celebrate their individual and collective histories.

police 15 - Copy

The Royal Bahamas Police Force Band — IRHF 2011

Of course, staging this much-loved, three-day festival is not inexpensive. To help with the myriad of event costs (equipment rentals, printing, transportation and accommodation for dozens of presenters and performers, just for starters), the festival committee has planned a number of fundraising events. If you’d like to support the Island Roots Heritage Festival, here’s how:

IRHF Cookout FlyerAttend the Fundraising Grill Out on Saturday, March 8: A grill-out will be held this Saturday evening at the basketball court in the center of New Plymouth. If you’re on the cay, please drop by for dinner and dessert. Grilling begins at 5 pm.

Donate a Raffle Prize: The festival committee is seeking prize donations for their annual raffle. If you’re able to donate merchandise, gift certificates or services, they would much appreciate it. If you’d like to contribute a raffle prize, let me know, and I’ll forward contact information for the festival committee.

Donate Cash: To make a cash donation, large or small, drop me a note and I’ll put you in touch with the committee.

If you’re planning to attend this year’s Island Roots festival and haven’t yet reserved your flights, accommodations, golf cart or rental boat, better get on it. I hear they’re booking up fast. Hope to see you there!

Related Posts: Green Turtle Cay 101: Getting Here, Green Turtle Cay 101: Staying Here, Island Roots Heritage Festival: Celebrating All Things Abaco, Island Roots Heritage Festival: Bridging Past and Future, An Unscheduled Performance at Island Roots

Save

An Unscheduled Performance at Island Roots

Turns out one of the most memorable performers at the 2013 Island Roots Heritage Festival wasn’t even in the program. On the first day of the festival, Mother Nature made several unannounced – and unwelcome – appearances.

As an opening act, she whipped up a thundering downpour, trapping people indoors and delaying the festival opening by an hour or more.

Then, apparently not satisfied with the havoc she’d wreaked earlier, she resurfaced around dinner time. The eastern sky grew dark and heavy, and the winds picked up. A waterspout began swirling off the east shore of the cay.

Photo by Timothy Roberts

Festival goers took cover in nearby buildings as the funnel barreled toward shore and made landfall as a tornado at the north end of Gillam Bay.

Video by Timothy Roberts

Residents along the bay scrambled for shelter under stairwells and in shower stalls as their homes were pummeled. Though several houses and at least one vehicle sustained serious damage, no major injuries were reported and fortunately, the tornado dissipated before it reached the settlement.

Island Roots Festival: Bridging Past and Future

This post is the second in a two-part series. Here’s part one: Island Roots: Celebrating All Things Abaco

Straw Work Booth

Straw Work Booth

Beyond the sheer fun of the event, the Island Roots Heritage Festival serves as a bridge between past and future for those with Abaconian ancestry.

For me, the festival does more than remind me of my grandmother’s stories. It brings them to life.

One way Ma May earned money for the family was by making and selling straw hats. My grandmother and her sisters collected the palm tops, dried and prepared them, and braided the raw strands. Ma May then stitched that “plait” into hats.

Though I’m lucky to have one of the straw hats she made, I never got to see her make them, so I love watching the craftspeople at the festival.

And while it’s now an entertaining festival contest, conch-cleaning was a daily chore for my grandmother. Hard to believe these days, when conchs are so precious, but back in the 1920s, Pa Herman kept them to feed his hogs. Each morning, my grandmother and her sisters would have to break a dozen or more conchs before school.

Island Roots Festival: Celebrating All Things Abaco

Photo and Sign Courtesy of Mandy Bennett Roberts

Photo and Sign Courtesy of Mandy Bennett Roberts

For a few days each May, tranquil New Plymouth pulses with activity as the Island Roots Heritage Festival takes over the settlement. Originally created to encourage islanders to renew ties with kin in Key West and beyond, today’s festival offers an authentic and entertaining island experience for locals and tourists alike.

GTC 2013 (5)

Royal Bahamian Defence Force Band Marches Through Town

For visitors, Island Roots is a crash course in local culture. Bahamian artisans display native wood carvings, straw and shell work, fine jewelry and vivid paintings of tropical scenes. Traditional lime-in-spoon races, scavenger hunts, Maypole plaiting, conch-cleaning and conch horn-blowing contests and tug-of-war competitions delight kids of all ages.

%d bloggers like this: