Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Independence Day Celebrations

Jamaican Independence Day was Monday, August 7th. We attended two events to celebrate the 44th anniversary of Jamaica's independence from the British.


First, there was the Portmore Municipality's recognition and flag raising ceremony. It was a formal affair, with most people wearing suits and dresses. We were a little underdressed, but I guess we were thinking of a U.S. Independence Day event like a parade or fireworks, where most people wear shorts or jeans. There was cultural presentations from two high schools; statements from the Prime Minister, Governor General, and Leader of the Opposition; and much thanking of all the important people who attended.


After that, we went to Denbigh Agricultural Show, a long running annual event that traditionally coincides with Independence Day. Each parish has a small room in which they display the produce, agricultural products, and crafts that are representative of the parish. Many of them have the same things because the climate is similar throughout Jamaica, but each parish usually tries to do something a little different. For instance, the St. Elizabeth theme was Breadfruit, and they had dozens of breadfruit products such as wine, preserves, cake, pickles and more. We also found out that the parish staff, usually connected to the 4H, has to sleep on the concrete floor each night of the Show - not cool. We ended up buying a Jamaican color themed messenger bag for Kaelyn, coffee jelly, mango wine, and an aloe plant (also called sinkle bible in Jamaica) with a clay pot.


The highlight of Denbigh was seeing the Prime Minister, who was touring the parish booths with her entourage prior to giving a speech at the Show. We happened to be in the same booths as her multiple times, and then a rush of people would come before and after her, pushing the normal fair participants to the side until she passed. It was cool because it was the closest we had ever been to a head of state (That's her in the hat with a green ribbon).

-Shane and Kaelyn

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