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Festival Provides Window Into 'Tru' Bahamian Culture

SCORES of international visitors received a taste of Bahamian culture at the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival last weekend.

The event, produced by the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), was a mixture of cultural activities, products and music held at the John Watling's Distillery.

The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation has been sponsoring the event since its inception, and this year provided transportation to and from the cruise port for visitors.

Dionisio D'Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, said: "This festival encompasses everything about being Bahamian. It has all of the different arts and craft, all of the artisans, the food. "Everything that is here is made in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and it is so wonderful to see. You add to that the beat, the music and the soul of the event, and you see why this is such an incredible event to attend.

"The traveller of today wants to experience the heart and soul of a country, to dig into their culture to see what this is all about. You don't get any more Bahamian than this."

Nigel, from Fort Lauderdale, used the event to experience Bahamian culture. "Lots of people, lots of food, it was very nice," he said.

Marino, who was visiting the Bahamas from Finland with his family, said he enjoyed his time at the festival. "It's a lot of people with a lot of things to do, a lot to eat and drink, so we enjoyed it," he added.

BHTA president, Carlton Russell, said the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival has grown significantly over the last three years.

"This year we have attracted more visitors than we ever had, and it tells us that the word is getting out," he said. "It's all about the culture and bringing the culture to the forefront. Down the road I see this festival spilling into a street festival that we can cut off from Graycliff. That's what it's about - celebrating Charleston."

Many Bahamian vendors also benefited from the festival, as their locally-made products received massive exposure.

Linda, from Androsia Batik in Andros, said the company returns to the festival every year and hopes to participate for many years to come.

"We love everything Bahamian and so we love to participate," she said. "We want to get Androsia everywhere. Most of our clients say 'Are you going to Tru Tru?'. It's easy and not stressful."

Kelly Burrows, of Octics Organics from Eleuthera, is a member of the BHTA and said the relationship is especially beneficial when it comes to the festival. "They connect Bahamian artisans and vendors with tourists. The BHTA critiqued my brand, helped me finalise it, and Atlantis decided what they wanted [to purchase]. They connect you with the buyers that you need to see. It's always my pleasure to be a part of the BHTA, and definitely the Tru Tru Bahamian brand," she said.

Chavette Williamson, of Chavette's Jewelry, participated in the event for the first time.

"There are a lot of Bahamian artists that are ready for the international market, and we need local businesses to respect our product.

"I'm loving the festival; I have had a lot of persons come by and admire the raw materials we use. So it's been awesome," Ms Williamson said.

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