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Rita Francis Festiville opens; ‘Letty’ Hodge is Parade Marshal

- residents criticise lack of participation in Torchlight Procession
Cutting of the ribbon for the opening of the Rita Francis Festiville. From left: Miss BVI Adorya R. Baly, Prince and Princess 2016 Jonathan T. Hutchinson and Jae’da A. De Castro, Minister for Education and Culture Hon Myron V. Walwyn, Ms Rita Francis, Acting Premier Dr The Hon Kedrick D. Pickering (R7), Chairperson of the Virgin Islands Festival and Fairs Committee Kishma A. Baronville, Parade Marshall Violet 'Letty' Delville-Hodge and Treffor Grant. Photo: VINO
The Rita Francis family in full support of the 2016 Virgin Islands Emancipation Festival Honouree. Photo: VINO
The Rita Francis family in full support of the 2016 Virgin Islands Emancipation Festival Honouree. Photo: VINO
Rita Francis (with plaque) is flanked by Minister for Education and Culture Hon Myron V. Walwyn (left) and Virgin Islands Festival and Fairs Committee Chairperson, Kishma A. Baronville. Photo: VINO
Rita Francis (with plaque) is flanked by Minister for Education and Culture Hon Myron V. Walwyn (left) and Virgin Islands Festival and Fairs Committee Chairperson, Kishma A. Baronville. Photo: VINO
2016 Parade Marshal, Violet 'Letty' Delville-Hodge (centre). Photo: VINO
2016 Parade Marshal, Violet 'Letty' Delville-Hodge (centre). Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – The Rita Francis Festiville was declared opened in Road Town on July 25, 2016, officially starting celebrations for Virgin Islands Emancipation Festival 2016.

The evening started out with the traditional Torchlight Procession, which moved off from the Central Administration Complex area and culminated at Festival Grounds, heralding the start of the night’s opening ceremony.

Several persons lined the streets anticipating what they thought would have been a "bright scene" with a lengthy stream of flickering lights created by flambeaus; however, this was a far cry from expectations as those who participated were in very small numbers.

It was the voiced opinion among a group of bystanders that the procession could have been better organised. “You tell me, don’t you think if they had asked like the various countries who got organisations here, like the Vincys, the Grenadians, the Guyanese, the St Lucians and all the rest, to send some people to participate this would have looked far better?” asked one of the men.

“Festival is about emancipation for all, no matter where in the Caribbean you were born we all celebrating emancipation from slavery right through the Caribbean. And the other thing, if you take a good head count I bet you my last dollar the majority of the people in the ground (Festival Grounds) supporting aint born here, they just living and working here but they supporting more than the born heres,” added one woman.

Shortly after the procession ended the on-stage ceremony commenced. The programme was chaired by Mr Treffor Grant who was obviously not his usual jovial self.

Honourees

The highlight of the opening ceremony was the honouring of Ms Rita Francis, who the Festiville is named after, and popular horse owner Mrs Violet 'Letty' Delville-Hodge, who is this year’s Parade Marshal.

Much was said about Ms Francis as one of the leading cooks in the territory and her steadfast commitment to being present with her famous peas and rice at cultural event and the ever popular horse races at Ellis Thomas Downs in Sea Cows Bay.

In her speech, read by a family member, Ms Francis said, “I wish to thank the entire British Virgin Islands who has supported me over the years as a booth operator during Festival in Road Town and Sea Cows Bay. Those days were very hard having to deal with coals and coal pots, sometimes even the fire place and the three stones and wood but God saw me through.”

Francis also described her honouring as a bitter sweet moment as most of the persons who were her greatest supporters are now deceased, including her mother and husband.

Delville-Hodge said in brief, “…I want everybody else into carnival (Festival) do not give up. I know that some things are not the same but it’s something that we have to continue. Certain things we have to change and some things we have to keep.”

Acting Premier Dr the Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) gave brief remarks as did Minister for Communications and Works Honourble Mark H. Vanterpool (R4) and Minister for Education and Culture Honourable Myron V. Walwyn.

7 Responses to “Rita Francis Festiville opens; ‘Letty’ Hodge is Parade Marshal”

  • boycott (26/07/2016, 10:10) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    POLITICS SPOILING THE FESTIVITIES
  • Well Sah (26/07/2016, 10:20) Like (9) Dislike (12) Reply
    The local couldn't speak but the cuban, anguillian and the garrut spoke at our emancipation event..
  • cay (26/07/2016, 10:32) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    Festival dead this year
  • dog (26/07/2016, 10:46) Like (16) Dislike (6) Reply
    We need to boycott the festival as long as funny man is minister
  • facts man (26/07/2016, 11:05) Like (6) Dislike (2) Reply
    Not Politics BOYCOtt,IT's the NDP and their Close Supporters spoil everything in the BVI,the list is to long to list at this point..
  • tOLIAN bLOOD (26/07/2016, 14:32) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    "It was the voiced opinion among a group of bystanders that the procession could have been better organised. “You tell me, don’t you think if they had asked like the various countries who got organisations here, like the Vincys, the Grenadians, the Guyanese, the St Lucians and all the rest, to send some people to participate this would have looked far better?” asked one of the men."

    SO WHY THE HELL YOU ALL DID NOT TAKE PART INSTEAD OF HAVING TO BE INVITED TO DO SO? SET OF INGRATES.
    • Jill (26/07/2016, 17:20) Like (1) Dislike (5) Reply
      Who must ask them, when they live here. They are self-centered and that is a problem.


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