No money to pay Festival Committee volunteers – Hon Walwyn
Speaking at the opening ceremony which saw four of six founders being honoured, Ninth District Representative Honourable Hubert O’Neal was loud in praise to the four and even more, the committee of today for a job well done as he said many were their trials.
Hon O’Neal told the large gathering of persons that the residents of the sister island and the territory as a whole have every reason to be proud of what the festival has turned out to be over the 50 years.
“Virgin Gorda has become something synonymous with Easter festivities and this is something that we should be proud of, not just as Virgin Gordians but as BVIslanders as a whole.”
He told the story of the festivities starting as a simple celebration, in the form of a picnic, with the addition of persons from the sister territory US Virgin Islands and has evolved into what it is today.
“So I want to give thanks to the founders. I must also give thanks to the present committee, Ms Sasha Flax and her team. They have done a marvelous job this year…. They have been through many trials and tribulations. I want to personally thank you Sasha Flax. Don’t mind the talks, don’t mind the criticisms.”
The District Representative’s sentiments were also supported by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) as he expressed gratitude for the vast mixture of persons present.
The four founding members of the Virgin Gorda Easter Festival who were honoured are Andy Flax, Rose Gardener, Rupert Ephraim and Bernice Sprauve, whom the festival village is named after.
Meanwhile, the controversial Minister for Education and Culture Honourable Myron V. Walwyn (AL) took an ‘about face’ on the matter of ensuring volunteers of the VI Festival and Fairs Committee be compensated financially for their service.
In what many saw as the Minister’s quest for political points, in 2014 he attempted to make a case for the volunteers to be paid when he noted that most government boards are given a stipend and same should be the case for the Festival and Fairs committee volunteers.
The Minister touched that topic as he addressed hundreds present at the opening ceremony of the Virgin Gorda Easter Festival on April 15, 2017. “The work of festival is hard work and sometimes we don’t appreciate what goes into putting on a good festival and they are not paid….I want to pay them but I don’t have any money to pay them, so the lord will bless them.”
On the other hand, Chairman of the BVIF&FC, Trefor A. Grant appealed to persons to show appreciation to committee members who volunteer as they work to ensure patrons get a good time. He described their work as “A labour of love.”
Opening night acts deliver
Following the opening of the Bernice Sprauve Festiville it was time for musical entertainment by local and overseas performers.
Local band VIBE put on a show that was well received by the crowd and set the pace for the night.
The international acts included Jamaican artist Jah Cure, who also took a brief moment to tell the crowd to cherish the life they have in the Virgin Islands, a place where there are not many murders and guns as compared to the country he is from.
Jah Cure noted that he would have been able to do much more writing of songs had he lived in the VI because of the quiet that exists.
The brother duo "Rock City" of the US Virgin Islands was another good treat at the opening night.
Patrons were treated to a few of their new songs and many familiar ones. But persons were shocked to learn from the musical brothers that they were being blocked from performing in the village of the USVI carnival of 2017.
Rock City was performing for the first time in Virgin Gorda and they no doubt had the crowd wanting more.