Gregory Town Celebrates 30 Years of Pineapple Festival
Hundreds of visitors and locals flocked to the new and improved festival site in Gregory Town, Eleuthera to celebrate the 30th annual Pineapple Festival on June 1-3.
Held under the theme “Pineapple Power Still Sweet”, the weekend was truly a family event as it was filled with old school activities for the kids, pineapple-themed entertainment for the adults, exciting down-home performances all while sweet Bahamian music drifted through the air.
First introduced in 1988, Pineapple Fest celebrates the tradition of pineapple farming in Eleuthera while honouring the pineapple farmers for their superior contributions to the community. Pineapple Festival is also the longest running festival in The Bahamas.
Charity Armbrister, Director of Events said that this year’s event was the largest ever.
“The turnout was huge. This 30th Anniversary was no doubt the biggest ever. Hundreds of Bahamians and tourists filled into the site throughout the day and night. It was definitely a great family event and kids could be seen playing traditional games,” Armbrister said.
Entertainers such as the Get-off band, Veronica Bishop, Avvy and Ira Storr and the Spank Band and other local entertainers gave electrifying performances throughout the entire festival.
Throughout the weekend, pineapple eating contests were also held challenging the most talented, the plaiting of the Pineapple pole took place, along with exciting mixology and culinary contests. There were no losers and everyone left a winner and in most cases, with a sweet succulent pineapple in hand.
To properly commemorate the 30th anniversary, founding members were recognized with plaques and certificates.
Jacqueline Gibson, General Manager of the Eleuthera Office and creator of the festival 30 years ago said it is a blessing to celebrate pineapple farming.
“This is the first festival of its kind and we’re just so delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate the pineapple here in Eleuthera. We’re hoping this will give an opportunity for more persons to get back into pineapple farming because we have the sweetest pineapples in the world and history will show that countries abroad have started because of our pineapples,” she said.
Visitors travel far and near to not only taste the sweet Pineapple that is known to Gregory Town but experience the island in ways that are not regularly offered.
First-time visitors to Eleuthera but not The Bahamas, Dayna and Chuck from Houston Texas said the festival has been a real treat.
“Our favourite part has been seeing the families together, enjoying the beautiful sky and hearing the music. We tasted a bunch of the local food and it’s wonderful, so it’s been a real treat,” the couple said.
Frequent visitors to The Bahamas, Calvin and Laura Lupton from Houston Texas celebrated their honeymoon in Eleuthera last year but missed the Pineapple Festival said their favourite part has been seeing the togetherness of the community.
“Pineapple Festival is super fun, it’s amazing to see all of the locals especially from Gregory Town come together and celebrate. We’re glad to be at the thirtieth annual festival, there’s lots of great food, we got drink tips from the locals, of course, the gully wash and it’s been lots of fun,” they said.
Laura added that having the chance to eat more of the local food made the festival even better.
“It’s really fun to try more of the local food, at a lot of the resorts you go to, it’s more Americanized food so it’s really good to immerse ourselves in the Bahamian culture. It’s a beautiful, beautiful, country. Eleuthera is an incredible island so we’re just really glad to see the culture come to life,” she said.
Enjoying the festivities for the first time was Parliamentary Secretary Mr Travis Robinson M.P., who described the festival as being impressive.
“So far it happens to be very exciting. I think that persons are basically enjoying themselves and persons are out in a family atmosphere. I think that so far it’s pretty good. There is room for improvement but what we’ve seen, speaks well for the product, what we are producing and I think that the tourism industry and the tourism office here in Eleuthera along with the residents have certainly done a good job,” Robinson said.
Ellison ‘Tommy’ Thompson, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Tourism said events like Pineapple Festival also gives Bahamians an opportunity to explore their country.
“The Pineapple Festival was actually the first one of these festivals in the islands and then so many have sprung up from it. Like Crab Fest, so this is really a good event. The thing is, it means so much to the local economy of these communities. These festivals bring in a lot of people from around the island from other islands of The Bahamas from Nassau. It comes and gives a great injection of cash into the community and gives an opportunity for Bahamians to come and explore their country,” Thompson said.