Thousands Attend Trelawny Yam Festival

Thousands of Jamaicans, as well as visitors to the island, braved intermittent rainfall to attend the annual Trelawny Yam Festival on Easter Monday (April 9), at its new location at the Hague Agricultural show-ground in Falmouth.
Organized by the Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency (STEA), the event serves to showcase the high quality yam varieties produced in the parish and sees farmers and vendors displaying a variety of yams and yam dishes.
The periodic showers did not prevent patrons from viewing displays of white, renta, yellow, sweet, mozella, Chinese, and St. Vincent yams and sampling boiled, fried and roasted yam with pickled mackerel, salt-fish, coconut run-dung or the traditional ackee and salt-fish.
Some vendors were more creative and demonstrated the versatility of the product by preparing treats such as yam buns, pizzas, cakes, puddings, wines, beers, punches, ice creams and chips. Apart from the various yam dishes, patrons could partake of culinary delights such as boiled corn, roasted sweet potato, jerked chicken, fish and pork.
The massive gathering was kept entertained throughout the day with cultural performances from the Kingston Drummers, Selassie Marching Band and the Christiana High School Steel Band, among others, and the ever-popular ‘best dressed donkey’ parade.
STEA’s Board Member and Event Planner, Donovan Haughton, told JIS News that the venue for the festival has been moved from Albert Town to Hague, due to the increase in the number of patrons attending the show over the years.
“We have been listening to the feedback and every year the patrons say that the numbers are increasing and the streets of Albert Town certainly cannot accommodate the bumper crowd,” he said, noting that more than 15, 000 persons attended last year’s show.
Commenting on the displays, Mr. Haughton said that he was most impressed with the ‘Flavours of Cricket’ display by the Runaway Bay HEART Hotel and Training Institute, in tribute of the ICC Cricket World Cup.
“Essentially, what we have done is to research the national dish of all the 16 playing nations that arrived in the Caribbean for the Cricket World Cup then we merged it with the yam, and every hour on the hour, the Runaway Bay HEART Hotel was able to produce at least two dishes from each of these countries,” he explained. Among the dishes prepared by the HEART trainees were: chicken tandori from India; ackee and salt fish from Jamaica; stampot and hutspot from the Netherlands; roti from Pakistan; Irish stew from Ireland, among many others.
Elizabeth Chambers, member of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority’s (RADA) Ulster Spring home economics group, who was one of the exhibitors, pointed out that the yam could be used in many ways. At her stall, she had by-products such as yam pizza, patties, cakes, rock buns, duckunoo and a power punch.
“It is evident that the people really like the yam by-products. Right now all the patties are sold out and I have to be making more pizzas. You can never make enough here,” she boasted.
Patrons flooded the stall of Brenda Reid to purchase her tasty yam combo, which as she explained “is basically a combination of different by-products of the yam in a little package that you can take home for a family member” and included bun, fruitcake, muffin, among other items made from yam.
“People are really excited about the yam by-products and for me this is the biggest yam festival I have ever seen. At my stall, we have been standing for hours and we cannot get the chance to rest our feet because people just want the yam by-products,” she told JIS News.
Meanwhile, Sonia Murray, a visitor from the United States, said that she was attending the festival for the first time and was having a good time. “I have had the yam ice cream, fruitcake, wine and the beer and I must say that it’s out of this world! I am going back to New York to tell all my friends about the experience,” she said.
Samuel Vernon, a patron from Clark’s Town in Trelawny, told JIS News that he was enjoying the event and that he was happy that the show was being held at the new location, as people were able to move about more freely.
“I always attend the festival in Albert Town and what I find is that there is more congestion there. Right now at Hague, it is better because the people have more parking space as well as more space to walk around and view whatever it is that they would want to buy at the show,” he noted.
The Trelawny Yam Festival exposes the unique culture and culinary arts of southern Trelawny and seeks to bring recognition to the parish and enable investment in the area.

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