The undisputed oldest and largest Vincentian cultural and educational group in the United States on Oct. 3 conducted what organizers say was a very successful biennial exposition at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.
Executives from the Brooklyn-based Club St. Vincent, Inc. said the 2015 cultural exposition, held under the auspices of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consulate General, was an “event for the entire family.”
“It was very, very good,” said the group’s president, Grafton “Breen” Greaves, in a Caribbean Life interview. “It’s good for the family, for the community and for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We get to show our talents and skills, so the younger generation can see what we’re doing – that they can follow in our footsteps,” he added. “I hope we can carry [continue] this thing a little longer and bigger, and that more Vincentians can participate in our endeavors.”
Actually, besides Vincentians, other Caribbean nationals participated in the showcase that featured, among other things, cultural performances; children’s village; food court; fashion show; local arts, crafts and agro products; a health corner; and a resource area.
Fourteen members of the Philadelphia-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania (SVGOP) attended the event “to show support and to vend,” according to Yvonne O’Garro, the group’s public relations officer.
The SVGOP crew, which included president Lorenzo DeCaul and ex-president Arlette Dopwell-James, said they were promoting their group as well.
Members of SVGOP sold local delicacies, such as pelau, dukuna, and peanut (ground nut) and coconut sugar cake, among other things
DeCaul also displayed his “imaginative, acrylic painting,” dubbed “Beachscape of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
“I do it [paint] just to relieve stress,” he said. “I don’t really sell them [paintings, which also featured some called ‘Rainbow Mountain.’ I just display them.
“We just come here to support the culture,” DeCaul continued. “If you want the culture to develop, you have to do that. I’m enjoying myself.”
Nearby, Ynolde “Nollie” Walkin displayed a wide variety of locally-made products.
They included: Pepper sauce, coconut oil, soap, seasoning, body scrub, bracelet, ash tray, coconut oil, farine and plantain chips.
Lana Harper, of Georgetown, Guyana attended the event for the second time, displaying her “self-made jewelry”, blended oils and soaps.
“I enjoy doing this because I get to display my work and get to mingle with people from the Caribbean,” she said.
Calypso maestro, Alston “Becket” Cyrus, renowned as the “ABC of Calypso,” used the occasion to promote his new calypso album.
“It’s good,” he said, referring to the exposition. “I came [from St. Vincent and the Grenadines] just for this.
“I want people to get the new album [‘Remakes & New Takes’],” he added, flanked by former disc jockey Dennis Nanton and Sandra Millington, ex-Club St. Vincent, Inc. president. “The remake is better than the original.”
Stage side, Pnutylah Layne gave the “Spoken Word;” Owusu Slater drummed; Zulema George, owner of the Brooklyn-based AK Couture Boutique & Bar, conducted a fashion show; and Roger G. mimed.
In addition, a number of local artistes impressed the crowd with their respective numbers. They included calypsonians/soca artistes Caldric Forbes, Oscar James, Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas and Winston Soso. Isaac Saith sang reggae.
“We feel that events such as this are important, as they provide an opportunity for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and elders to teach the children about their Vincentian heritage and also [to] remind us of our culture,” said Verna Arthur, the exposition’s coordinator, in her welcome remarks.
“It is the hope of Club St. Vincent, Inc. that this event will serve as the beginning of this effort,” added the former president of Club St. Vincent, Inc.