Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
THOMPSON PEN, Spanish Town:
IT WAS billed as a stew festival, but the annual event hosted by the Lauriston and Thompson Pen Community 4-H Club at Brooklyn Park in Thompson Pen, just outside of Spanish Town, last Saturday proved to be much more of a vibrant educational community fair.
The strong support from state agencies and corporate Jamaica resulted in a well-rounded event with services including HIV-testing provided free of cost. Representatives of the Consumer Affairs Commission, the Social Development Commission, and the National Commercial Bank were on hand to share information about their services. Coinciding with the observance of National Drug Awareness Month under the theme 'Mek We Protect Wi Yutes From Substance Abuse', separate booths, manned by the National Council on Drug Abuse and the Transnational Crime and Narcotics Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force were a welcome addition.
They provided valuable insight into issues such as recognising the early signs of alcoholism in children and some of the ingenious methods used to traffic drugs. Then there was the riveting performance by students of the Jonathan Grant High School who put on a lively dance and drumming performance. Add to that advice from members of the St Catherine Fire Department about fire prevention as well as a talk from the police, and this was definitely much more than a stew festival.
Oh yes, there were stewed dishes - stewed jackfruit, stewed carambola (star fruit), and stewed June plum, as well as more conventional menu items such as stewed rabbit, jerked chicken, and jerked pork, with a whole pig being roasted on a spit, which proved to be a big draw, especially with children.
Space limitation of the venue (along the roadside) was the major drawback, with potential risk to patrons from passing traffic; but overall, the Lauriston and Thompson 4-H Club must be commended for dishing up a very well-conceived community event.