Pedro St. James’s well-attended Coco Fest 2017 was all about coconuts gone wild.
“It was a success last year and a bigger success this year,” said Debbie Bodden, Pedro’s operations manager.
Coconuts are known for their great versatility, and that was well in evidence with more than 42 stalls showcasing everything coconut by vendors on the castle grounds.
Hundreds turned out to sample, see and celebrate the Cayman coconut, a bountiful food source with legendary properties, and a traditional staple in the Caymanian diet.
The event is sponsored by the Tourism Attractions Board, Pepsi, Foster’s Food Fair and Cayman National Bank.
There were various delicious coconut dishes on offer, and lots of fresh coconut water and coconut jelly for visitors to taste, along with fish and fritters cooked in coconut oil, coconut ice cream, toothpaste, jello, candy, shrimp, wall plaques made from coconut leaves, coconut rum and much more.
The event also featured a children’s coconut coloring area and boat making demonstrations by the Cayman National Museum. There were also cooking demonstrations, an “extreme bungee jumping” apparatus for the adventurous, along with face painting and balloons for the youngsters in the crowd.
The Visual Arts Society was also on site selling coconut drawings and painting, and a variety of stalls highlighted the benefits of coconuts and coconut oil. Even Pedro’s resident donkey, “Jack” got to try a bit of the coconut product in the Pedro courtyard.
“It was such a success [last year], we decided to do it again, which was also based on vendors’ demand,” said Ms. Bodden.
“Vendors were able to showcase their talents and coconut products, people were shocked because they did not know there [were] so many things made locally on island with coconut.”
She said most of the vendors told her they been making their products at home as a hobby, just to pass the time.
“It just brings to light so much that is being done with coconuts. The most unusual thing I saw here today was coconut toothpaste made on the island,” said Ms. Bodden.
One vendor told her they had been searching the bushes for coconuts for days to make ice cream.
“A lot of work goes into making the ice cream, but it is well worth it,” she said.
Ms. Bodden would like to see a coconut association formed on island and some sort of coconut factory built where coconut products can be made and sold to stores and visitors to the island.
“Local vendors cannot keep up with the demand of coconut products. For them, it takes a lot of time [to make their product] and they want it to taste and look nice; with a factory we could produce more,” Ms. Bodden said.
Coco Fest also helped to raise funds for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, with part proceeds from admissions going directly to the charity.
“The Cancer Society was so grateful to be selected as the charity to receive $1 from every $5 admission,” said Cancer Society Operations Manager, Jennifer Weber.
The $845 received will go toward the organization’s voucher program, which offers free medical vouchers to people who may not be able to afford a doctors’ visit.