The recent 4th annual Barbados Pre-Independence Extravaganza, organized by the Office of the Consul General at New York, was compact and intimate, showcased a variety of new products and activities, and in many ways enjoyed a sense of renewal.
Indeed, the 12 noon until 6:30 pm affair was better patronized than the past two years.
The cultural bazaar had three stations: a business, cultural and information marketplace; an open restaurant styled food space; and genealogical history and storytelling presentations which were held in the gym, cafeteria and auditorium respectively, of public school 109, on East 45 Street, Brooklyn, located in the heart of the Barbadian community.
Patrons were treated to background music and a stilt-man performance as they interacted with vendors, moved in between stations, toured the mobile museum of artifacts or enjoyed a traditional Saturday Bajan meal.
Among the new features were a Martin Cox-led presentation and information about the Barbados Family History project of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society; umbrella painting; selfie picture frames and a hands-on climate change science project by students.
Rich Harris and his family, participating in the Extravaganza for the first time, test-marketed his black, blue and gold soft shoe line “Just For Kicks.” The Bronx-born 25-year-old enjoyed the experience.
The poster board display of Dr Errol Byer caught his attention. “Did you see the story and pictures teaching people how to make cou cou? I love it. My father is Barbadian and my mother is American. He is always talking about cou cou,” remarked the young marketing and communication specialist.
By the way, it was clear that many patrons came for a taste of cou cou, pudding and souse, and the other Barbadian delicacies on offer. They spent most of their time in the cafeteria.
Around six o’clock, one of the food vendors sat resting her feet. Still on one side of the table lay a few loaves of coconut bread. On the other side of the table was a plastic container with pickled pig feet.
“I hope you have more coconut bread. I want to take home one of them for my husband,” said a patron who rushed through the door. The vendor smiled and looked towards her assistant, who handed her a coconut bread packed in a brown paper bag. She gave it to the patron and a solemn face became all smiles.
“You are really lucky. This is the last one, ” said the vendor, as she handed another bag to a next patron. When asked what her name was, the vendor replied: “My name (is) Greta – just like grater that you grater coconut with. How come you don’t know me? Well, I make the best pudding ‘n souse around this place on Saturdays.”
Table displays included books, caps, carnival costumes, culinary and health products, genealogy and ancestry searches, jewelry, memorabilia, paintings, and Tee shirts. The Barbados Public Workers Co-operative Credit Union Ltd and Team Barbados had information displays.
About fifty vendors participated altogether.