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CARNIVAL 2017: Thousands Flock To Food Arts & Crafts Fair For A Hearty Good Time

FRIENDLY GREETING: Gov. Kenneth Mapp greets a young person who was helping out at a crafts table on Wednesday.

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CHARLOTTE AMALIE –  Thousands gathered in St. Thomas on Wednesday to enjoy the sights, tastes and sounds of the 2017 Carnival Food, Arts & Crafts Fair.

Gov. Kenneth Mapp welcomed all to the 65th annual fair and urged the public to support the vendors. He congratulated this year’s honorees and fair winners in various categories from produce to pastry.

This year’s special event was named Winnie’s Garden of Delights & Delicacies in honor of Winifred Hilarine Rabsatt Francis, who has participated in the fair for more than two decades and has worked to pass on traditional recipes and cooking techniques to the younger generation.

Born on St. Thomas to Helen and Louis Rabsatt, Francis grew up on Seventh Day Street in Hospital Ground. She worked side by side with her mother, the proprietor of the island’s most popular bakery, and this became the training ground that would serve as the foundation for her exceptional culinary and baking skills.

After Hurricane Marilyn demolished her home, Francis used the opportunity to expand her kitchen and she quickly became the go-to person to prepare meals for family gatherings and celebrations. Francis said that she also takes great pride in the cooking lessons she offers to children and each year conducts free culinary seminars for the Carnival princess and queen contestants.

Francis, who retired last year after a long career on Main Street,  is a member of the Wesley Methodist Church and serves in the soup kitchen monthly.  Married to married Raymond “Double” Francis since 1975, she said that she is the proud mother of four and also has four grandchildren.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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