JIS News

Thousands of Jamaicans as well as visitors to the island flooded the streets of Albert Town on Easter Monday (April 17) for the staging of the annual Trelawny Yam Festival.
The event, which is organized by the Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency (STEA) serves to showcase the high quality yam varieties produced in the parish and saw farmers and vendors displaying a variety of yams and yam dishes.
Among the varieties on display were the yellow, mozella, sweet, white and St. Vincent yams, while patrons sampled 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 pizzas, cakes, buns, puddings, wines and punches, ice cream and chips. Apart from the various yam dishes, patrons could partake of culinary delights such as jerked pork, fish and chicken, boiled corn, and coconut water.
The bumper crowd was kept entertained throughout the day with various cultural performances and the ever-popular ‘best dressed donkey’ and ‘best dressed goat’ parades.
STEA’s Executive Director, Hugh Dixon, told JIS News that he was impressed with the variety of by-products of yam that were on display.
He noted that, “our idea of ‘going back to the grung’ for 2006 is really looking at the whole tradition, culture and agricultural practices of yam production and trying to see .the possible spin offs that can come from improving on the basic crop,” adding that proceeds from the festival would go towards the implementation of development projects in Southern Trelawny.
Trelawny Parish Manager for the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Donald Robinson, also lauded the creative dishes of the vendors, noting that the home economics groups did an excellent job at the show.
Brenda Reid, member of the RADA home economics group, who was one of the exhibitors, pointed out that yam could be used in many different ways. At her stall, she had by-products such as yam wines, boosters, quenchers and cakes.
“I am promoting a yam bun that is low in sugar and good for the whole family and I am very excited to know that we can move away from just roasting and boiling to looking at the different ways in which yam can be used,” she told JIS News.
Meanwhile, there was a long line to taste the yam pizza and yam ice cream produced by Elizabeth Chambers. Ms. Chambers told JIS News that she enjoyed preparing creative dishes. “The yam ice cream is made from a special wild yam called ‘bitter gashi’, she informed, pointing out that in days gone by, the wild yam was used as a purgative for new mothers.
Meanwhile, Canadian citizen, Tom Peacock said that he had visited Jamaica on several occasions but had never been to the Trelawny Yam Festival. “I have heard many stories about the yam festival and how it is really a big party where people come to have lots of fun so I have come to see it for myself and I will surely come again next year,” he said.
Andrea Gardner, a visitor from Washington DC in the United States, told JIS News that she found the culture of the parish to be very interesting.
“This is my first time to Jamaica and it is also the first time that I have tasted real yam. I have sampled a lot of yam dishes from the culinary competition. I have tasted yam cheesecake and yam dip and it is just great,” she said.
The Johnsons, a family from St. Ann, said that they had always visited the parish’s kite festival on Easter Monday, but this year, they decided to enjoy an event outside the parish and so they chose the Trelawny Yam Festival.
The Trelawny Yam Festival exposes the unique culture and culinary arts of South Trelawny, which is responsible for over 40 per cent of the island’s yam production. It also seeks to bring recognition to the parish and enable investment in the area.

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