For the past three years, on the weekend after Ash Wednesday, residents and visitors look forward to attending the annual Coco Fest at Pedro St. James, and this year was no exception.
Hundreds of residents and visitors traveled to the castle to enjoy the best in coconut-based cuisine, along with a variety of local arts and crafts.
This year, the festival helped raise funds for the National Council of Voluntary Organisations’ Nadine Andreas Children’s Foster Home.
Pedro Castle manager Debbie Bodden said of Coco Fest: “It’s for a great cause this year. This is the most vendors we’ve had and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger each year.”
The festival celebrates all things coconut, with a vast array of stalls selling or featuring coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil and even coconut flowers, as well as plenty of coconut-based food, crafts, games and beauty products.
Among the stalls were Island Taste offering coconut curry chicken, Carol Braggs’s “floppy bubby” jello, Yolanni’s “coco loco,” Powder Monkey’s coconut rum-infused marshmallows, Carmen Conolly’s coconut tarts and coconut custard-top corn bread.
Ms. Braggs’s “Sweet As Can Be” toasted-top coconut pound cake won first place in the Coconut Cake Competition, in which Taste This Life took second and Zelma Lee Ebanks’s coconut concoction took third place. Attendees were treated to cooking demonstrations and tastings from some of the islands’ coconut aficionados.
Some tables were stocked with several coconut hair-and-face products, while others offered coconut ice cream or had piles of intertwined coconut leaves fashioned into place mats. There was also a booth featuring young coconuts, ready to be chopped open and their coconut water paired with Seven Fathoms coconut rum.
Another stall highlighted the many uses of coconut oil. During the day, the documentary “Bright Spot,” by filmmaker Rob Tyler and holistic nutritionist Tamer Soliman, was shown. It focuses on re-embracing the traditional Cayman practice of using coconut oil.
Over at the Visual Arts Society booths, young visitors enjoyed a creative kids coconut corner, while members of the society showed off their artwork and photographs.
The Coconut Festival pays homage to Cayman’s cultural history. While the use of coconuts in Cayman remains relatively popular today, the nuts have been a mainstay of the Caymanian diet and life for many decades. Years ago, coconut was used to flavor anything and everything, from coconut rice and beans to rich cassava cakes, breakfast porridge, dumplings and fry fish.