While stating that his team is impressed with the creativity of participants in the second annual Kellits Yam Festival in Clarendon, Baldwin McKenzie said there will be changes to the event, including a different month.
McKenzie, Clarendon Parish Manager for the Social Development Commission (SDC), was among many persons who braved the rain and red dirt on May 10 to support the festival held at Kellits Skills Training Centre.
He told The Beacon: “Last year, we had rain, and this year we had rain even earlier than last year… We are going to have a meeting [this week] Wednesday to evaluate this festival and also look at a new date. We are looking at some time in March or April, but it will not be May next year.”
McKenzie further stated that greater effort will be exerted to have the hotel industry represented at the festival.
“For next year festival, we are going to invite the tourist sector to come into Kellits to see exactly some of the products that can be used in the hotel industry.
“What we are trying to do is to really create wealth at the community level where the people use their own local resources in creating this sort of business,” McKenzie added.
He disclosed that emphasis will be placed on incorporating more products into the festival – especially those that are grown in abundance in and around Kellits.
“I was told that vegetable is another thing that is grown well in Kellits… We want to see what by-products can come from vegetable. Vegetable wine; I can imagine that right now,” McKenzie added.
He, in the meantime, promised that the SDC will maintain contact with persons who impressively put their creativity to work at the just-concluded festival.
“Based on what we saw, we realized that there is a wide range of products coming from yam, and we are going to work with those persons so that – at the end of the day – those products can be seen on supermarket shelves,” McKenzie said, adding that the creation of new products is likely to drive down unemployment in the area.
“People talk about there is no job; we all understand that. But we are saying to people that they need to be creative – create their own jobs. We at the festival saw clear evidence that the people are really ready in Kellits for that, and we are going to work with them to take them to the next level,” McKenzie promised.
He said the products that were most impressive at the festival included yam cake, yam punch, yam pudding, and yam wine. “We are very impressed, and we are very happy for the community,” he further told The Beacon.
The festival, in the meantime, also featured a number of competitions, a stage show, as well as participants selling or displaying a plethora of food items – not only yam.
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