24 The Dally News, Friday, Fetuary 13, 199
Today's agricultural fair is similar to the 'Field Day'
This is Black History Month.
Many Vigin Islandess made contri-
butiomns to this community.
Mr. Morris L Henderson con-
tributed literature about the past his-
tory of agriculture fairs on St Croi.
A couple of years ago, Henderson
wrote about his recollection of the
pastagriclturefaiso n St Cix.
He stated, "During the 1930s,
agricultural fairs were held at the
former Agricultural Experiment
Station at Estate Anna's Hope, St.
Coix. As I recall, these fairs were
canned out during the time when a
Mr. Glen Briggs was director of
In those days, an agricultural fair
was called an agricultural "Field
Day" and attracted more than 5,000
persons, which was a considerably
great number comparatively speak-
ing since the population on St.
roix was hardly more than 12,000
to 14,000 people.
At that time, there were a large
number of small-farm operators,
roughly speaking in excess of 400
farm families who operated small
aceag on which all kinds and types
of native fits and vegetables .were
produced. In addition, there were
those prodcers who raised large and
small livestock in comparatively
large numbers including cattle,
goats,sheep, swine and ponty.
The agricultural Field Day
attracted almost every producer,
especially those who grew food
crops and literally speaking, there
was always an overabundance of
agricultural produce vegetables
and fruits of very good quality and
of every description possible.
The farmers looked forward to
these "Field Days" because it was,
as today, one of the highlights of
the year and the time when resi-
dents could no only get a first band
exposure to what the procedures
were growing, but were also able to
purchase any amount and kind of
produce they were interested in.
Not only were vegetables, fruits,
livestock and poultry available, but
also their products and by-products,
including eggs, mcat and milk. Ani-
mals were also on sale in addition
to being on ahibit. One could pur-
chas a young animal such as a call
a id or a lamb and poultry. Also on
sale were such produce as vegetable
aseds, transplants (slips as they are
called locally), ornamental and fruit
trees in quantity.
Another attraction during the
Field Day was the display and sale
of local beverages of all kinds,
baked goods and native foods,
sometimes prepared at home, but
often on the premises as is done
today. Music on the premises also
made the day. There were formal
programs where government offi-
cials and other dignitaries made
speeches and many outstanding
producers were recognized. There
were various types of awards and
prizes for outstanding quality of
produce or livestock and homemade
goods, foods handicr, etc.
The greatest tribute that could be
given in those field days was the fact
that they attracted hundreds of agri-
cultural producers and that agricul-
tural produce was in such abundance
and wide variety as to impress on the
casual observer the potential in
which agriculture has in this island.
Appreciation showed for the efforts
of those who engaged in producing
food for local consumption.
After about a decade or two, and
possibly with the shift in the eco-
nomic situation experienced locally,
agricultural field days petered out.
However, during the mid-50s, the
former Federal Experiment Station
endeavored to revive an interest in
such activities. To take the place of
the old-time field day, livestock
shows and competition were held
These attracted the livestock
producers. In addition, field demon-
strations and tours of the Station
were conducted periodically, but
these were geared basically to
encourage the local producers to
visit in order to observe what was
being done in agricultural research,
and should not be interpreted as
taking the place of an agricultural
fair, per se.
This short account of former
fairs and/or field days should not be
construed as an implication for
comparison between what is being
done today and what has been done
in past years as far as agricultural
fairs on St. Croix are concerned.
One personal observation I
would desire to point out, however,
is what agricultural fairs today are
certainly much more sophisticated,
with a great deal more insight into
the technology of agriculture as a
basic industry, but the atmosphere
and congeniality of producer-partic-
ipant and visitor to the field days
was something to experience.
It used to be as though St. Croix
were just a small island of one big,
happy family, where everybody
pitched in and had one good hell-
Olasee Davis, who has a master
ofscience degree in range manage-
ment and forestry ecology, is a St.
Croix ecologist activist and writer.