Derrick Scott, Contributor
The delightful mix of gorgeous flowers, other horticultural products, and iconic cultural offerings put Jamaica centre stage in Washington, DC. For two days, the small island with the big heart stole the hearts and minds of the people of the US capital.
'Jamaica 50, Feel the Heart and Soul of a Nation' was the title chosen for the island's floral exhibition, which won rave reviews at the Flower Mart 2012 Festival, the premier annual festival that brought together some 50,000 people at the Washington National Cathedral earlier this month.
"Jamaica's participation in the show this year helped to enhance it." That affirmation came from none other than Flower Mart Chairman Vickie Longosz in summing up the response to the Caribbean nation's presence at the 73rd staging of this annual spring celebration of flowers.
"The performance of the Kingston College Boys' Choir brought tears to my eyes," she shared unabashedly. "We brought something different to the Flower Mart that has never been done in our 73 years of holding the show and this year was something special."
Declaring Jamaica's floral arrangements, other exhibits, music, art, drummers and food "just a phenomenal hit", Longosz went on: "For the over 20 years since attending the flower show, I don't think I've experienced such friendliness and warmth of a people." Jamaica is "the first Caribbean country to ever be selected to be featured, and that is a testament to the country. I can only say thanks to the Jamaican Embassy and the participants."
It was, of course, a very proud moment for Cherryl Gordon, chargé d'affaires at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington, DC. She welcomed her country's selection as the featured attraction this year for Flower Mart, saying, "It gives us an opportunity to showcase our country's rich heritage and to give the hundreds of showgoers an
opportunity to experience a little piece of Jamaica's flora, art, food
The Kingston College Chapel Choir performed over the two days, as well as at the preview party on the May 3 and was an instant hit. They rendered a string of stirring music, including European classical favourites as well as popular Jamaican pieces and folk songs, such as Many Rivers to Cross, Jah is My Keeper, Linstead Market. At the opening ceremony, the Kingston College Chapel Choir was joined by the Cathedral's St Alban's Boys' School Choir.
The Akwaaba Drummers, led by Phillip Supersad, and young violinist Nadjé Leslie, also impressed. Leslie, one of Jamaica's outstanding award-winning musicians, so mesmerised the distinguished patrons that an encore performance was called for.
Beaming with satisfaction was horticulturist and Custos of St Andrew, Marigold Harding, who has designed Jamaica's floral entry for Flower Mart for the past six years. This year's design featured green anthurium, andreanum, obaki anthuriums, yellow oncidium and cymbidium orchid blooms, philodendrom and pothos leaves, which graced two naves of the century-old cathedral.
Tasty Jamaican treats
Just near the entrance to the cathedral, the Embassy Tent offered patrons a sampling of tasty Jamaican treats including fruit and rum cakes, coconut drops, gizzada, bread pudding, grater cake, cassava pudding - all courtesy of embassy chef Sherene James.
Craft items, quilts and wearable art, courtesy of the Norma Ramsey-Davis, were on sale, as well as a selection of books by authors Dorel Callender, Felicita 'Terry' Robinson and Curdella Forbes. Along with Beverley East and Doreen Thompson, these fine Jamaican ladies gave readings from their books and a talk on Caribbean cuisine in the cathedral's breathtakingly beautiful St Joseph's Chapel.
Jamaica's multitalented master potter Phillip Supersad also shared his skills in a series of pottery demonstrations - a rare treat for the adults and children alike - who got to try their hand at the potter's wheel. Supersad's work was also featured as part of the exhibition of fine art and craft by Jamaican artists housed inside the cathedral which included Jacqueline Bishop, Alphanso Blake, Paul Blackwood, Bernard Stanley Hoyes, Donovan Marks, Opal Palmer Adisa, Cheery Stewart-Josephs, H. Lloyd Weston and the Rose Hall Artisans and Rose Town Potters.
Among the attendees at the show
were the Bishop of Washington, Rt Rev Mariann Edgar Budde; interim dean
of the Washington National Cathedral, Dr Francis H. Wade; president of
All Hallows Guild (the Flower Mart organisers), Carol Kelleher; with
former president of the Jamaican Senate, Professor Oswald Harding, on
hand as well.