After almost a decade of hosting the Sunset City Food Fest, organizers in St. Mark’s are planning on further enhancing the event for the growth and development of the parish and its 4,000 residents.
According to members of the St. Mark’s Development Committee, their future plans include “a phased increase of the frequency of hosting the Food Fest, from a once-monthly activity to fortnightly’’; developing a “St. Mark’s Development Committee Heritage Tourism Tour’’; and making a new part of the event a “night market for selling agricultural products and local craft’’.
The inaugural Food Festival in St. Mark’s was held on April 21, 2007; launched, the founders say, “in response to the need for employment opportunities in the rural communities and to mitigate the negative effects resulting from the ravages of Hurricane Ivan on the nutmeg industry’’. The hurricane left some 250 industry workers without a job.
“The vendors look forward to the event because it’s a good source of income for them; not every month is a bumper month but they’ve stuck with it for 9 years. So, Food Fest has helped them economically. Of course, it has also helped other businesses in the community,’’ said Dr. Judy Dubois, President of the St. Mark’s Development Committee.
Prior to the advent of Food Fest, which began in June 2007 and is held on the last Saturday of each month, St. Mark’s Day was observed for more than 20 years on the last Sunday in April.
Events like Food Fest and St Mark’s Day are used to celebrate many achievements of St. Mark’s, and to highlight landmarks and tourist attractions such as the highest mountain peak in Grenada, Mount Saint Catherine; Amerindian artifacts in the form of petroglyphs; the remains of sugar factories; and numerous watercourses and waterfalls.
As well, St. Mark’s has a rich sporting tradition, winning more national championships of the Grenada Football Association than any other parish; and dozens St. Mark’s footballers have represented Grenada at the national senior and junior levels.
St. Mark’s also boasts of a strong farming tradition with many parishioners owning small plots that are used to grow crops for home consumption.
In explaining the vision and the concept of the Food Fest, whose current monthly budget is estimated at $3,395.00, the organizing committee promises to continue promoting only Grenadian dishes and beverages “to create an avenue whereby the community will attract needed income’’ to a parish, which is constantly classified as the poorest in the country.
“The overall objective of the Food Fest is the creation of income generating opportunities for residents, whilst fostering community pride and identity; providing a welcoming cultural-tourism attraction and promoting the use of locally produced fruits vegetables and other crops,’’ committee members added.
“The food fest aims at acquiring its own suite of equipment and furniture and thus obviates the need for renting at non-sustainable levels from outside private sources.’’
For her part, Development Committee President Dr. Dubois said: “I would like to see more sponsors come on board so that we can do more advertisements. I think this is one of our needs: to advertise more, so as to encourage more vendors to come on board. I would like to see more people, more sponsors involved, to make it an even bigger event’’.