Friday, August 27, 2010

Club St. Vincent stages cultural expo

By Nelson A. King Published: Friday, August 27, 2010

In its bid in keeping the Vincentian culture alive in the Big Apple, the Brooklyn-based Club St. Vincent, considered in many quarters here as the pre-eminent Vincy cultural and educational group, on Aug. 14 staged its 2010 cultural exposition.

The massive event, held at V.I.P. International in Brooklyn, featured, among other things, arts and crafts, fashion show, local delicacies, music and live entertainment.

The island-nation’s musical arranger extraordinaire, Frankie McIntosh, and cultural ambassador, Alston “Becket” Cyrus, as well as other calypso and soca artistes, such as Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas, the deputy New York consul general, were on hand, rendering their incomparable talent free of cost.

Frankie’s uncle, Harold McIntosh, played the saxophone, and Detector, I-Mad, Fabulous T, Leon, Kiki and Jakie belched out pulsating soca hits.

Zulema George, who owns Chouchounette boutique in Brooklyn, coordinated the young models; while Shakellia Augustine, proprietor of the Brooklyn-based Carnival Essence, showcased miniature carnival dolls.

U.N. Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves took time out to unwind from the intensity of diplomacy at the New York-based global body.

“I think it’s wonderful that Vincies are taking this opportunity to celebrate their unique cultural heritage and what makes them Vincentian,” he told Caribbean Life between live performances on the gigantic stage.

“We have within our Caribbean civilization a very unique Vincentian component that includes a history of struggle by the Garifuna, their genocide, our triumph over slavery and colonialism, and our tremendous strides as a free and independent people,” he added.

Thomas said it was a “great opportunity” to exhibit Vincy culture in the Diaspora, applauding the organizers for involving the youth in several activities.

“This is good so the culture can pass on from generation to generation,” he said, noting that about one-third of the attendees were children.

Frankie McIntosh said he was dying to participate in the exposition, adding that direct contact between artistes and people were paramount.

“I was looking forward to it for the past 1 1⁄2 weeks,” he said. “It provides a forum for artistes to express themselves. This is done on a personal level – selling CDs, etc.”

Becket, who performed a few of his hits in his wide and historic repertoire, said he couldn’t miss the event “for any tea in China.”

“It’s well organized, too,” he said before rendering “Teaser,” among others. “The local dishes are good.”

While taking in the exhibits and sounds of Vincentian culture, patrons feasted on home-made delights, such as breadfruit and saltfish, saltfish cake, dookunah (spelt a variety of ways), pelau, escovitch fish and cow foot souse, washing them down with ginger and sorrel beer, mauby and seamoss.

“This kind of event is exactly what we need to have as Vincentians,” said James Cordice, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania, who trekked to Brooklyn just to be part of history.

“It encourages solidarity for Vincentians and showcases our talent,” he added. “I don’t care what it is, as long as it is St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I’ll travel for it.”

Verna Arthur, chairperson of the cultural exposition and Club St. Vincent’s public relations officer, said the event played a “pivotal role” in exposing the myriad talents and skills of her compatriots.

“It’s something we provide for the community,” said the group’s former president.

“As a cultural and educational organization, I think it’s befitting to have something of this nature,” she added, singling out the vendors – food and merchandise – for special praise.

“They’re been with us (for 20-odd years),” Arthur continued. “The people, who are here, are supporting the vendors.

“The feedback I’ve been getting is that people enjoy the event,” she said. “The artistes are very good. They give their time for free. It’s something we’ll continue to do as long as we’re around, and do it on a larger scale.”