Hundreds gathered at Pedro St. James on Saturday for a chance to celebrate all things coconut.
From Coco-Jitos to coconut fried chicken, coconut-themed decor and healthcare products, the family-friendly event provided attendees with a chance to explore and sample the many flavours and potential uses of the tropical drupe.
“When people come in, they get to see what can be done with the coconut,” said Deborah Bodden, the operations manager of Pedro St James. “Each year, the event continues to grow. Last year, we had 27 vendors; this year we have 35. In fact, we sold out of booths within 12 days of them going on sale, and we ended up having a waiting list.”
Now in its fifth year, the annual gathering offers vendors like Zena Rochester a chance to showcase their coconut-infused products.
“My grandson is allergic to everything except pork,” said Rochester. “When he was very young, he had eczema, but he couldn’t use the medication. Then I found out coconut was good for it, and from there I got interested in the possibilities.”
Rochester’s stall, Health Alternatives Cayman, was one of several booths that offered fairgoers a chance to purchase coconut lotions, creams, shampoos, face masks, essential oils and scrubs.
Local artist Michelle Bryan’s watercolours typically feature children and animals. For Saturday, she included coconut trees in her portraits.
“I don’t normally paint coconut trees,” she said. “But the coconut tree is a very important part of who we are as a people. It’s a part of our culture, and it has many benefits.”
Coco Fest also provided young entrepreneurs with a chance to exhibit their products.
Destiana Edwards, a mentor for Junior Achievement Tropical Ja Company, said the students were learning business skills while making eco-friendly and sustainable products.
“We’ve made more than $100 in sales today,” said Edwards. “We are selling decorative coconut products, that are wrapped in thatch rope, and painted. The students are learning valuable business and marketing skills, while providing a product that has many natural and healthy benefits.”
The half-day festival also featured hours of local music, quadrille dancing and a baking competition, as well as arts and crafts and games for children. The event also provided a chance for people to donate to Meals on Wheels.
“This is a really important event for all Caymanians,” said Bodden. “It brings together the people and coconuts in a place of great historic value. We are grateful for support from the community and we are looking forward to next year.”