Residents of communities in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, turned out in their numbers on Saturday (Nov. 3) to support the Lauriston-Thompson Pen 4-H Club’s fourth annual Stew and Jerk Festival.
The event, held at Brooklyn Park in Thompson Pen, provided the opportunity for the club to showcase the uses of various agricultural produce and for patrons to partake of tasty fare prepared by persons and groups invited to participate.
The fun-filled family event also included entertainment, giveaways, rides for children, and exhibits of products and services by various agencies. The main attraction was the Celebrity Cook-off, where local personalities showed off their culinary skills.
Club leader and founder, Shian Christie, who spearheaded the event, was pleased with the day’s activities. “The event was good overall,” he told JIS News.
Mr. Christie, who is the 2004 Prime Minister's Youth Award recipient for Leadership, said that the new thrust of the 15 year-old club is promoting rabbit farming and increased consumption of local fruits.
He pointed out that rabbit rearing is the most lucrative area of livestock farming that can be undertaken in Jamaica at this time, as rabbit meat sells for approximately $1, 200 per pound.
The Stew and Jerk Festival was well supported by the 4-H hierarchy, including Executive Director, Lenworth Fulton, who was effusive in commending the club.
“It is a tremendous event. It has great leadership, and good young people,” he said, noting that the club is delivering on the mandate to train youth in leadership skills and vocations including agriculture and home economics.
He also pointed to the key role that the club, which has over 120 registered members, is playing in the development of Spanish Town and the importance of its location to the Old Capital.
He noted that the area is “a growth area for Spanish Town in terms of housing and business, so we need to build the youngsters and take them out of crime, and that’s why we are here with them”.
Meanwhile, Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Lance Corporal Ricardo Bennett, emerged winner of the Celebrity Cook-off with his chicken linguine.
Competitors were presented with a basket of items from which they were required to cook a meal of their choice. Corporal Bennett staved off strong challenges from other competitors, including Mayor of Spanish Town, His Worship Norman Scott; and Councillor for the Lauriston Division, Keisha Lewis.
It was JDF’s second hold on the title of Cook-Off Champion, as Lance Corporal Fredrick Beckford’s took top honours last year, with his fish and pasta salad.
Lance Corporal Beckford, who was on hand to support his colleague, said the JDF’s participation in the event is aimed at building community relations. He said he was happy to attend and to experience the reaction of the residents, particularly the children. “They were expecting us and when we arrived, they cheered us. It was heart-warming,” said the soldier.
Other organisations which supported the event were: National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Heart Trust/NTA, National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), Jamaica Red Cross, Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Spanish Town Peace an Justice Centre, Social Development Commission (SDC), Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) and Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
The Jamaica 4-H Clubs operates in 650 schools in all parishes and is supported 6,500 teachers, as well as 2,000 volunteers.