Cayman prepares for 51st Agriculture Show

Exhibitors are lining up, farmers are grooming prize bulls, and the Department of Agriculture is getting its plants and trees ready for the 2018 Agriculture Show, which gets under way on Ash Wednesday.

This year will mark the 51st time the annual event will be held. The show, one of the largest community events in Cayman, usually attracts more than 10,000 people and organizers are expecting at least that number this year.

The show opens at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, at the Agriculture Grounds in Lower Valley.

On Tuesday, agriculture workers were busy at the department’s nursery, watering and trimming local plants that will go on sale.

“In preparation [for] the big day, we have lots of fruit trees, over 250 for sale. We have East Indian, Julie, Nam doc, Valencia, Jakarta, Nelson, Duncan [mangoes]. We also have tomato, Scotch bonnet, sweet peppers, bell peppers and big sun peppers, an assortment of mints, breadfruit, avocado, soursop, naseberry – a huge variety of local plants for sale,” said Claudette McKenzie, agronomist at the Agriculture Department.

The show will feature a number of themed areas, including a food court, farmers’ market, art and craft areas, livestock displays, an exhibition hall and a kids playground. There will also be a hot wings competition, baby show, horse riding, Miss Farm Queen, Farm Princess, and dance performances by “Cayman Dream Chasers.”

The agricultural show will have more than 400 exhibitions and this year it will focus on sustainable agriculture in a changing world.

“Even though the world is changing, the Agricultural Society is still committed [to] bring quality agricultural products to the people of the Cayman Islands. If you eat local, you are agriculture,” said Kerry Forbes, administrative coordinator at the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society, which along with the Department of Agriculture, is organizing the event.

George Smith, president of the Agricultural Society, said in a newsletter to members that the Agriculture Show is a significant part of Cayman history and perhaps one of the few preserved things that resembles and purports its original purpose: farming in the Cayman Islands and self-sustenance.

The occasion, he said, is also an opportunity for gifted and talented farmers to showcase their products and to contribute to a family and children-oriented day.

The first Agriculture Show in Cayman was held some 50 years ago in George Town with a few farmers and local cooks. As the show’s popularity grew, it was moved to the West Bay Town Hall yard but poor attendance from outer districts forced it back to George Town, to the Cayman Prep School grounds.

When permission was granted by government to use the property, the show moved to the George Town cricket oval, where it remained until 1989 when Hurricane Gilbert damaged the site. The show then moved to the Lions Centre on Crewe Road.

Today, the show is held at the Agriculture Pavilion on Agricola Drive in Lower Valley.

Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for children. Raffle tickets cost $25 and include admission.

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