Welcome to the 19th Anniversary
of the St. John Arts Festival!
February 16 - 23
Spurring on the recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the St. John Arts Festival is off and running again for its 19th Annual event. The Festival brings to the fore the history, tradition and culture of the indigenous people of St. John in its many forms, including music, dance, arts and crafts. Thanks to the continued support of Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, the USVI Department of Tourism and our many other sponsors.
There has been no better place to show both visitors and residents alike what the culture and tradition of St. Johnians is all about than the “little park” straight off the ferry terminal, forming the first impression that newcomers experience – leaving no doubt that they have “arrived in the Caribbean,” with all of its color and warmth – as advertised.
This year’s Festival program retains the successful format of previous years, starting with a Children’s Day on Saturday, February 16th, when all the energy and exuberance of youth is displayed – including traditional steel pan band music; an “All-Island Children’s Choir”; and children Quadrille dancing. There is also a Children’s Art Show in the storefronts of various empty offices on the second floor of the Market Place which continues throughout the following week.
Sunday, February 17th is a lazy day in the shade of the huge mahogany trees, with church choirs and a new “St. John Recovery Choir” echoing the indomitable spirit of the islanders, followed by colorful adult Quadrille dancing with its romantic links to days gone by.
Monday, February 18th – President’s Day – is the highlight of the week-long event, commencing with the music of the island’s number one traditional “scratch band,” originating with hand-made instruments and jaunty songs, as a prelude to a show of colorful dancers and a towering Moko Jumbie, reviving old dances such as the Bamboula from way back in the past and the superstitions of chasing away evil spirits in the trees.
Tuesday, February 19th reaches out to the music and dance from the neighboring Latin-American Caribbean islands. In the evening, in association with the St. John Film Society, there will be a screening of the award-winning documentary film: “Sharkwater Extinction” by film maker Rob Stewart at the St. John School of the Arts, which highlights the currently uncontrolled fishing of sharks to their ultimate extinction.
Wednesday, February 20th – We round-off musical concerts in the park with relatively modern, but definitely Caribbean, reggae music.
Saturday, February 23rd – We have extended the Festival to include a workshop in song writing (ASCAP-sponsored) at the St. John School of the Arts to encourage the composition of new songs for future festivals.
Throughout the Festival, adding to and completing the exclusively Caribbean atmosphere in the park is the ongoing exhibition of hand-made Caribbean arts and crafts, plus food and local-grown fruits and vegetables, with the exhibitors in colorful Caribbean traditional dress.
It’s a little jewel of a show – uniquely St. John! Visitors can’t miss it as they depart the ferry, and they will be left with the memory of the colorful traditions and culture of the people of this island.
Frank Langley, President