On Monday afternoon, hundreds of people flocked the streets of Spanish Town for the parade that rounded out the three-day Virgin Gorda Easter Festival.
“It was good,” organising committee member Susan George said of the long weekend. “We had a few challenges, but everything worked out perfect.” This year marked a comeback of sorts, following a scaled-down festival hosted last year after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now in its 54th year, the festival was named in honour of Dawn Flax, a Virgin Gorda resident who has helped organise the annual event for many years.
The weekend’s activities kicked off on Saturday with a cultural food fair, which ran through the afternoon in Spanish Town.
That evening, the Dawn Flax Easter Festiville opened with a ceremony that recognised the many contributions Ms. Flax has made over the years.
At-Large Representative Shereen Flax-Charles said Ms. Flax started participating in the festival at age 5 and went on to play a key role in organizing pageants and other shows.
The ceremony also featured a presentation to Joycelyn “Sistah Joyce” Searles, who captured a prize for suggesting the theme “Rejuvenate and celebrate wid we stress-free for Virgin Gorda Easter Festival 2023.”
Other speakers included Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley, Virgin Islands Festivals and Fairs Committee Chairman Dirk Walters, Ninth District Representative Vincent Wheatley, and VG Festival Committee Chairman Franklin Walters.
The speeches were followed by performances from Elvis White Band and It’s a Secret Band. Later in the night, Grenadian soca artist Mr. Killa had the crowd chanting, waving flags and enjoying hits like “Oil it Up” and “Party Bad.” Sistah Joyce also took the stage, as did OMG Live, featuring Pascal.
On Sunday afternoon, 18 people competed in the Ralph T. O’Neal Hat Parade, and that night Reynold “King Paido” Phillips won the crown at the calypso show. Later performances included the VI bands Xtreme and Vibe, as well as Triple Kay International from Dominica.
Before the sun came up, a Rise and Shine Tramp got under way near Dixie’s restaurant, and it continued to the festival grounds.
On Monday afternoon, people lined the roadway for the annual parade, which included three troupes and two bands, Ms. George said. “We have seen bigger troupes in the past, but we had a good comeback this year,” she added.
The Show Stoppers dance group — made up mainly of student from the United States VI — led the way down the parade route.
They were followed by the adult troupes Jamming Five Stars and Dei Lyte. A truck carried a live band, while two moko jumbies towered overhead. Several politicians contesting the coming election also took part, sporting their party symbols and handing out sweets, juices and water.
Ms. George said the festival was “smooth,” but she hopes that next year organisers will start planning much sooner. “We need to work earlier on events to make everything spic and span,” she said. She added that any challenges were mainly related to the calypso show on Sunday night. “But everything worked out,” she said.
This year, the festival didn’t include a pageant, but Ms. Flax said in an interview on the festival’s Facebook page that she plans to re-introduce that event in the future. “We are a little bit too relaxed and waiting for people to just donate,” she said.
Ms. Flax added that hurricanes Irma and Maria and the pandemic hampered the festival’s evolution in recent years. But that, she said, will change soon. “We are resilient people in Virgin Gorda,” she added.