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Jamaica’s renowned expertise in horticulture, as well as the country’s musical talent and cultural achievements, will be take centre stage in Washington DC, May 4 –5, during the capital’s 73rd annual Flower Mart and Festival.

 The two-day signature event will bring thousands of horticulture experts and exhibitors, alongside thousands of aficionados and visitors, to the historic Washington National Cathedral in the United States capital. This premier event marks the Jamaican Embassy’s first official event for 2012, in the yearlong programme to commemorate the country’s 50th anniversary of Independence.

Declaring her pleasure that Jamaica is in spotlight this year, Chairman of the 2012 Flower Mart, Vickie Longosz, recalled the country’s distinction as the first Caribbean nation to be so selected.  She was confident that Jamaica will leave a memorable impression as the star of the upcoming two-day festival of flowers, music and entertainment. 

Ms. Longosz explained that with Jamaica celebrating its milestone 50th Anniversary this year, All Hallows Guild, organiser of the flower show, decided “it would be fitting to honour that outstanding country and its people”.

The Embassy of Jamaica in Washington, D.C., has championed the Caribbean nation’s presence at the festival for several years. This year again, Custos of St. Andrew and renowned horticulturist Mrs. Marigold Harding, who has represented Jamaica at the show for a number of years, has been tapped to design Jamaica’s floral display.          Mrs. Harding pointed out that she was delighted that Jamaica was chosen as the featured country at this year’s festival. 

“It has always been my desire to see Jamaica selected as the featured country, and it could not have happened at a more appropriate time," she said.

Meanwhile, Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Jamaica, Ms. Cherryl Gordon, notes that Jamaica’s selection as the honouredcountry at this festival is a very welcome opportunity to highlight Jamaica’s creativity and our significant impact on the world stage.   The Embassy’s goal is to use this Festival to bring the real Jamaica – in all her multi-faceted, sophisticated glory – to the people of Washington, D.C. 

During the Flower Mart, patrons will have a chance to hear and see nearly all Jamaican musical forms, a variety of styles in the visual arts and crafts, and to sample Jamaican cuisine, which represent Jamaica’s unique, multi-cultural heritage.

Over the two-day festival, the Kingston College Chapel Choir will perform at the National Cathedral.  The Choir will be accompanied by Ann McNamee, head of the keyboard section at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts' School of Music in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Kingston College Chapel Choir will be featured at the Gala Preview black-tie affair on May 3. The Choir will then perform at the opening ceremony of Flower Mart, on May 4, accompanied by St. Alban's Choir of the National Cathedral. Following this, the Choir will perform concerts at the Cathedral, in its role as a featured performer.

Audley Davidson has selected some works by classical composers, including Haydn, Bach and Rutter. However, the Choir will also perform Jamaican music with Marley's “Redemption Song” and Peter Tosh's “Jah Is My Keeper”, both from its latest CD and arranged by Audley Davidson.

Other Jamaican musical pieces will include a Grub Cooper arrangement of Jimmy Cliff's “Many Rivers to Cross”, as well as folk songs with arrangements by Noel Dexter and Keith Rhodes, and compositions by Noel Dexter and Lloyd Hall.

Flower Mart 2012 will also spotlight cultural offerings by other Jamaican artistes, among them, the Akwaaba Drummers led by Phillip Supersad and young violinist,     Miss Nadje Leslie, in addition to Jamaican story-telling and book readings.  A range of Jamaican cuisine, juices and spices will be featured as well.

Bert Smith & Co, Grace Kennedy, and theLaw Offices of Donovan Anderson are the main sponsors of this year’s event.  Other sponsors are J. Wray and Nephew and Jamaica Standard Products, producers of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.  One of the premier events on the Washington, D.C. calendar, the annual Flower Mart attracts some 80,000 visitors over the two days in May.