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Union Islanders will celebrate their first ever Conch Festival next month

Union Islanders will celebrate their first ever Conch Festival next month
Chairman of the Union Island Tourist Board, Stanton Gomes

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Union Islanders will be celebrating the Conch industry at their first ever Conch Festival next month.

The events will be hosted by the Union Island Tourist Board, and will run from Friday February 28 to Sunday March 1, 2020 on the Southern Grenadine isle.

Chairman of the Union Island Tourist Board, Stanton Gomes, in a release said, that over the years, conch has played a vital role in the economy of Union Island and St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) on a whole.

“Today, even more than ever, persons on Union Island are earning a good living from conch, and some local restaurants have made it part of the island’s cuisine,” said Gomes.

The Conch Festival will see restaurants and cooks serving up a variety of conch dishes in every imaginable form. Dishes would include conch water, stew, salads, fritters, curry, pelau, grilled, chowder, pasta etc.

Chefs on the island will also compete in several conch dish competitions for cash prizes and trophies.

The festival will also feature arts and craft, cultural performances, and several other competitions such as conch chopping and conch shell blowing, as well as activities for patrons.

Educational booths will be set up to help bring awareness to conch and the conch Industry and its sustainability; while attempts will be made to educate persons on the legal size for harvesting conch, and the role it plays in our ecosystem. Other seafood dishes featuring lobster and fish, will also be on sale during the festival.

“The Union Island Tourism Board saw it fit to introduce this event primarily for persons to appreciate the conch industry and the role it plays in tourism through our local cuisine, and events. Hopefully we would be able to encourage restaurants and cooks to expand their menu of conch related dishes into new creative ways,” Gomes said.

He added that the event will create an economic stimulus for the island as the Board continues to expand the list of activities for both residents and tourists.

“It will be an ideal way for visitors to get a sense of our history, culture and diverse tourism offering.

“The Conch Festival is part of the larger plan by the Tourist Board to promote Union Island more than ever before as a destination where you can choose to come for unique events, or simply relax on the white sand beaches and engage in several activities for the weekend,” Gomes said.

The Tourist Board envisions that the festival could eventually become an international culinary attraction for SVG, and contribute to culinary tourism, which is a major focal point for Community Based Tourism as this country works to grow its visitor numbers both domestically and internationally. Restaurants throughout Union Island will feature conch on their Menu while there will be a Street Lime at the “Lime and Sip Bar” with “Conch in the Street”.

On Saturday February 29, persons who may have a similar urge for conch as calypsonian Harmo, can head to the Fisheries Complex at Clifton, Union Island from noon, where the Conch Festival will be held. A variety of conch dishes, as well as other sea food dishes, will be on sale from several restaurants and cooks.

The festival will also witness persons engaged in different contests, including swimming, stand up paddle competition, conch chopping competition, conch shell blowing competition, conch and dumpling eating competition and beer drinking competition, while cooks will face off in several culinary competitions, including the speciality conch competition, conch salad competition, conch water competition and best overall conch dish.

The evening of Sunday March 1 is “Conch on the Beach” at the Sparrows Beach Club during which there will be a range of conch dishes on sale and local entertainment by Rondy “Luta” McIntosh, Bert One-man Band, Mark Simmons on Pan, and several Local DJs.

The festival is a build up to the Union Island Easterval week of events which run from April 5 to 13.

The build up also includes experiencing the unique big drum dance and other cultural events on May 15.

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