ON May 4, Bahamians and visitors will descend upon Green Turtle Cay's Settlement Point for the three-day Island Roots Heritage Festival. Founded in 1977, this Cacique award-winning event celebrates Bahamian history, culture and cuisine, as well as the shared Loyalist heritage of New Plymouth and Key West.
"Our theme this year is Green Turtle Cay: Beautiful, Bountiful and Blessed," says festival committee chairperson Annabelle Cross. "And though we invite all to attend, we'd like to extend a special invitation to all those with roots in Green Turtle Cay. This year's festival offers them a great chance to visit the cay, learn about their ancestors, research their roots and maybe even get to know family members they've never met."
From noon until midnight, festival attendees will enjoy a diverse range of entertainment including local school groups, the Sax Man, the New Entry Band, Bodine, Island Spice and Island Boyz. There will also be performances by the world-renowned Royal Bahamas Police Force Marching and Pop Band and a traditional Junkanoo rush by the Green Turtle Cay Slammers.
A variety of Bahamian artists, artisans and crafters will showcase and sell their creations, and Pat/Dot/Com (a partnership between top Bahamian designers Pat Daxon and Dot Miller) will present a fashion show featuring creative Androsia print and straw outfits, straw bags and straw shoes.
Adjacent to Heritage Park, in the air-conditioned Catechist George W Reckley Hall, a series of speakers including meteorologist and author Wayne Neely, author and historian Amanda Diedrick, Abaconian journalist Timothy Roberts, Bahamas DNA Project administrator Peter Roberts, and a representative from the Bahamas National Trust will present informative talks related to Green Turtle Cay's history, culture, ancestry and environment. Nearby, at the Gospel Chapel Hall, Bahamian genealogists will be on hand at the Family Heritage Research Centre to help festival goers trace their own Abaco roots.
Throughout the weekend, there will be demonstrations of long-standing Bahamian traditions such as plaiting the Maypole and the lime-and-spoon race, as well as many kid-friendly games and activities.
Finally, on Sunday morning, May 6, Green Turtle Cay residents and visitors will gather at an inter-denomination church service to give thanks for another wonderful opportunity to celebrate together.
Since the festival is one of Abaco's biggest annual events, the organising committee advises those planning to attend to book travel and accommodations as soon as possible. "
The Island Roots Heritage Festival is a huge economic boost to Green Turtle Cay," said Wynsome Ferguson, manager of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism's Abaco Tourist Office. "All hotels, rental homes and golf carts are booked over this three-day event, with the overflow going to Treasure Cay on the mainland."
Ms Ferguson pointed out that the reinstatement of Bahamasair's Nassau to Treasure Cay flights will make getting to this year's festival even more convenient.
Daily admission to the Island Roots Heritage Festival is $4 for adults and $2 for children, and all funds raised go toward the costs associated with staging the event. To accommodate festival goers, the Green Turtle Cay Ferry will offer extended service on Friday and Saturday nights, May 4 and 5.
For full 2018 festival details as well as a daily schedule, visit www.IslandRootsHeritageFestival.com.