Foodies and lovers of Virgin Islands culture can mark their calendars for the 11th Anegada Lobster Festival running Nov. 24-26, which is featuring a record 12 restaurants this year.
But this crustacean celebration is just the start of a revamped BVI Food Fete agenda.
Instead of packing several food festivals into November as part of Culture and Tourism Month, the BVI Tourist Board and Film Commission is planning to spread the events across the territory throughout the year.
BVITBFC Public Relations Manager Keith Dawson explained that organisers made this decision to help promote VI culture to international audiences year-round.
On Monday at the newly opened Main Street Restaurant, he and fellow organisers explained what they have in store.
Anegada Lobster Festival attendees will get to sample $10 featured lobster dishes at each restaurant, as well as the establishment’s regular menu.
Director of Tourism Clive McCoy emphasised that in the ever-competitive global tourism market, it is important to showcase the territory’s rich culinary offerings.
“People want to taste our johnny cakes. They want to taste our saltfish,” Mr. McCoy said. “We make our johnny cake a little bit differently — we put a hole in it. They want to taste the guavaberry. They want to taste the culinary prowess that we possess here in the British Virgin Islands, and we’re giving them an option to do that. By doing so, we are also showcasing our culture.”
New this year, the VI Recreation Trust is hosting two family fun days at the Anegada Recreation Grounds on Nov. 25-26. Activities include waterslides and pools, bouncy houses, and more.
This year’s festival is also set to feature more live music, including the Too Smooth Band greeting visitors on the ferry dock at Anegada.
BVITBFC Events Manager Dirk Walters said organisers took into consideration feedback from last year’s festivities about transportation, and they are coordinating new shuttle schedules and pickup locations to help visitors reach the featured restaurants.
The BVTBFC expects to soon release the Lobster Fest “flapbook,” which offers event details including maps, available accommodations, on-island transportation, safety information, and a list of the delicacies each restaurant will offer. On the menu this year will be fried lobster with mango dip, lobster pizza, savoury lobster rolls and lobster patties.
For every restaurant visited, patrons will get a new opportunity to enter into a drawing for two direct Miami-VI tickets via American Airlines.
The next event in the line-up is the Jost Lime and Dine, which revolves around offering late-night ferry services between Jost Van Dyke and Tortola during January and February next year.
While the last ferry returning to the mainland typically leaves at 5 p.m., patrons will be able to take a 6 p.m. ferry from the West End of Tortola and return at 10:45 p.m.
Mr. Walters said adding the extra ferry service should offer a boost to JVD businesses for their evening services, both from tourists and residents wishing to stay later.
“All participating restaurants are going to be hosting their menus and various entertainment and activities,” he said. “We’re going to breathe some more life into the sister island of Jost Van Dyke, and we’re very excited.”
Anegada and JVD aren’t the only sister islands being featured. Taste of Virgin Gorda will
take place on March 16 at the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour, where chefs from Rosewood Little Dix Bay, The Bitter End Yacht Club, and Blunder Bay will show off their skills.
Mr. Walters noted that in addition to VI performers who will be entertaining visitors, a mystery international artist will be featured.
Tickets will be offered on presale for $200 and will entitle holders to an open bar and free food samples.
Rounding out the festivities is the Taste of Tortola on June 29 at the Queen Elizabeth II Park. Entry costs $20 and comes with a welcome drink. Part of the proceeds from these two events will support tourism scholarships.
That day’s fun will also include the crowning of the top junior chef in the territory. Though there won’t be a separate event on Virgin Gorda as in previous years, Mr. McCoy said the board will help facilitate participation for any interested young competitors in the territory.
“This is an initiative to build our tourism infrastructure through people,” Mr. McCoy said. “It’s a way for persons to understand how important the sector is, and that the culinary side of things is very important when it comes to deciding where people are going to visit. It’s a way to get younger folks that are interested in tourism and cooking at the same time to build their skills.”
In addition to these main events, Mr. Dawson said the board hopes to promote VI businesses through activities like the upcoming Cooper Island Rum Festival.
“We certainly would be encouraging other businesses to do their part as far as hosting food events and items, and collaborating with us as we promote culinary experiences here in the territory,” he said.
The BVI Tourist Board announced this week that Asia-Leigh Llewellyn from Leonora Delville Primary School won first prize in its annual student competition to design the cover art for the Lobster Festival guidebook.
Her design includes an Anegada spiny lobster surrounded by all sorts of musical and culinary instruments.
Fellow prize winners include Tiffany Faulkner from Claudia Creque Educational Centre; Alana Singh from Bregado Flax Educational Centre Primary Division; Ah’Jenai Evans from Elmore Stoutt High School; Cameron Todman from Alexandrina Maduro Primary School; and Jaida Hypolite from Elmore Stoutt High School.