A large crowd is expected to flock to the Stacey Watler Agriculture Pavilion in Lower Valley March 5, for the 47th annual Agriculture Show.
The event showcases the best of Cayman’s farmers, plant nurseries, backyard gardeners and traditional artisans.
For anyone new to the island or on vacation, the show is a great way to learn about Cayman’s culture and to meet new people.
For locals, it is a time of reflection, remembering times when Caymanians relied on agriculture and local resources for their way of life.
“It’s a fantastic event for families to come out and enjoy a show that reminds them of old-time Cayman,” said Kerry Forbes, Agriculture Society administration manager. “It is also a good place to see what locals have produced by way of animals, ground provision, sumptuous local foods, family-oriented entertainment and arts and crafts displays.”
Besides excellent spot prizes such as tickets on Cayman Airways and gift certificates, Forbes said the day offers one lucky person the opportunity to win $20,000 cash from the Agriculture Society’s $25 ticket raffle. Funds from the raffle will go toward agricultural scholarships for aspiring farmers in Cayman. Cayman’s top farmers will be recognized for their achievements with awards for best farmer and crop farmer; best livestock exhibitors; best district stalls and best school grow-box submissions. There will also be cooking demonstrations, interactive seminars and children’s play areas.
The show is held in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society.
“Every year the agricultural show provides a unique and unparalleled opportunity to showcase the agricultural sector and the strides that our farmers have made in the past year,” said Brian Crichlow, Department of Agriculture assistant director.
“This year is no exception, and I am confident that many people will be amazed at the array and quality of produce being grown and the quality of our livestock being produced locally.
“In addition to its significance to agriculture, the show is one of the most important cultural events on the annual calendar as it provides the link between the traditions of the past and where we as a community are now and going to in the future,” Crichlow said.
Forbes recalls in days gone by how Caymanians depended on agriculture and the sea for their livelihood. “They gradually diverted from making a living from the land and sea to other jobs and careers,” she said. “Since then, the society has been pushing to make agriculture an industry because it is no longer a hobby.
“Agriculture has to be showcased so that today’s youth can get involved, and to encourage them to start thinking that agriculture [in and of itself)] can sustain you. It’s just a matter of raising the bar and getting it to the point that it really becomes the industry that it is supposed to be,” she added.
The agriculture shows of yesteryear came nowhere near the cultural experience offered today by way of homegrown products and crafts.
“The show was nothing that big, just a few cows, two or three people selling food from little huts made up of coconut leaves and a handful of people finding shelter under the mango trees,” said Neals Godfrey, a lifelong member of the Agriculture Society.
He remembers there being little in Cayman those days, with most surviving off the sea and land and what little was harvested going into the pots and on the plate.
The first show, he said, was held in George Town with just a few farmers, local cooks and residents who were encouraged to attend for free because money was short.
“It was a delightful experience to hear farmers brag about owning the largest root of cassava, the best milk cow, or which local cook had prepared the best turtle stew or heavy cake. It wasn’t too many activities, not even music was played, but everyone looked forward to meeting up with old friends,” Godfrey said.
“It has grown 100 percent since those earlier years. The number of people, and the way things are presented today speaks volumes of how much the event has grown,” he said. “We learned from the past, we have nice stalls for the animals and lots more plants and more produce. We even have a raffle.”
Gates open at 7 a.m.; general admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. While there is ample parking, residents are urged to carpool if possible.