Banana Festival success
Jolyn Bryan, Gleaner Writer
Patrons from all across the parish of St Thomas flocked to the third staging of the Port Morant Banana Festival, held on Heroes Day in Cotton Tree, Port Morant. Organised by the Port Morant Community Development Committee, with sponsorship and support from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), this year's event proved to be even more of a success.
It was proof of the hard work and dedication of the volunteers that strive to bring innovation to the community.
This year's display booths included those from the Port Morant Primary and Junior High School, the Greater Port Morant JAS Group, the Sunning Hill CDC, the St Thomas office of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the Banana Board, and several farmers around the Port Morant area. The Greater Port Morant Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) Group was the first-place winner for banana agro-processing, a prize they have received for the second year running.
A family fun day, bounceabouts, and rock climbing for the kids, a Mini Miss Banana Festival, a gospel showcase, six-a-side football and a dance competition, a cook-off and raffles, with food and refreshments on sale. The most interesting attraction, however, was the creative use of banana in ways never thought of before.
Banana juice, shake, wine, ice cream, cake, pudding, bread, hair tonic, oil, and many other derivatives were on display for all to taste and buy. Reneny Walker, marketing extension officer from RADA, told Rural Xpress that value-added products such as these was one way that the banana industry in St Thomas could be sustained, through creative use of the fruit and its by-products.
There was also a boat ride from Producers' Bay, where bananas were once shipped to England, to Bowden Wharf, and a cultural tour that highlighted the many historical sites in and around the town of Port Morant.
President of the CDC Pansy Murphy was thrilled with the additional support, highlighting that businesses in Port Morant and Morant Bay, and headline sponsors, the JTB, were instrumental in continuing to make the festival a success.
"We are getting support for our community initiative and creativity, and that is paying off now," she told Rural Xpress.