Nothing will convey the true island feeling like Eleuthera’s ethnic festivals. My nephew Andy spent 4 months on Eleuthera in the summer of 2010. He is pictured below and reports...
"I have experienced Bahamian music and island party culture at their best. Marco and I from Switzerland, and Johana from Colombia, attended a Junkanoo in Governor's Harbour and the Pineapple Fest in Gregory Town".
For a Calendar of Eleuthera Events 2011, click here.
Summer Junkanoo in Governor's Harbour
Johana and Andy at the Governor's Harbour Junkanoo
Andy: The festivities began with a dressed-up local Junkanoo band marching through the streets of the settlement, making incredible noise with their traditional instruments.
Some of these instruments are quite astounding... Drums made out of engine oil barrels, or the two long cow bells (below), one in each hand.
We were even invited by Junkanoo dancers to dress up with their funny hats (above) and dance with them in the parade.
Andy: After the Junkanoo procession was over, the big gigs were the Defence Force Band and the Nassau Police Band. The latter in particular entertained us with a good show.
Andy: Johana and I most enjoyed the live Junkanoo band that paraded the streets of Governor's Harbour. That band made us feel the Bahamian vibes.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there were more events in Central Eleuthera than just the weekly Friday night Fish Fry.
Generally Eleuthera's events start late and last all night. No need to arrive early, except if you want to sample the various dishes from the food stalls.
For 10 dollars we got a plate of fish, crab meat, conch, or chicken, with the usual peas and rice or other side dishes.
Andy: Do not expect everybody to dance at the Junkanoo even though the music is loud and the atmosphere electrified. Eleuthera is relaxed and people seem to particularly enjoy chatting, eating and enjoying the wild music.
Pineapple Festival in Gregory Town -
How It Was
Andy: Marco and I started out in the late afternoon by lazing away in the festival area down by the harbor of Gregory Town. We were sipping pineapple daiquiris and saw many food stalls and straw work stands in the harbor area.
Gregory Town and Harbor
Andy: The official opening of the Pineapple Fest was only at about 8 p.m., starting with the election of Miss Pineapple. Young girls of 13 or thereabouts dressed up like photo models. They presented themselves self-confidently as if they were women of 25. This was quite amusing to watch.
The speaker was testing their knowledge of Eleuthera's history and that's where we got used to their unique Bahamian accent. But the Miss Pineapple pre-election process lasted oh-so-long.
Later in the evening popular bands from Nassau like the Prison Guard Band were playing, and there in Gregory Town I experienced the fervent Afro-Caribbean rhythms for the first time. What a feeling!
We particularly enjoyed the fast, rhythmic music and the enthusiastic entertainers who did their best to really involve the public.
Best of all were the funny stories in the songs that contributed to the general happy atmosphere of that night under an awe-inspiring, starry sky. A wonderful dancing night in a refreshing sea breeze!
Believe me, these festive activities are something you shouldn't miss because they are your best chance to get the real island feeling.
Eleuthera's Homecoming Festivals
Homecomings are weekends of celebration in which Bahamians come back to their home towns from the two big Bahamian cities - Nassau and Freeport - and even from the United States.
Homecomings are celebrated at night in the center of the respective settlements. These very popular festivals with food stalls and live band performances attract hundreds of locals and expatriates. Tourists are welcome, too!
In the following settlements - from North-Eleuthera to South-Eleuthera - homecoming festivals are celebrated in...
- The Bluff
- Lower Bogue
- Hatchet Bay
- James Cistern
- Governor's Harbour
- Palmetto Point
- Savannah Sound
- Tarpum Bay
- Rock Sound
- Green Castle
- Wemyss Bight
Calendar of Eleuthera Events 2011
(I will update this calendar as new info is coming in.)June
1st to 5th, Gregory Town: Pineapple Festival honoring the local pineapple farmers. Pineapple eating contest, pineapple cooking contest, old time pineapple crazy sports, plaiting of the pineapple pole, Little Miss Pineapple Pageant and non-stop pineapple party time.
4th, Gregory Town. Continental Airlines Cycling Race, 40 miles (65 km). Held in Gregory Town as a part of the Pineapple Festival. Contact the Eleuthera Tourist Office, Governor's Harbour at 332-2142.
4th, Gregory Town. Pineapple Fest Triathlon. This is a 400 meter (quarter mile) swim, 10 km (6.2 miles) hilly bike ride, and a 5 km (3.1 miles) run. For information, contact Tom Glucksmann at 551-99635 or the Eleuthera Tourist Office at 332-2142.
Deep Creek Conch Fest. In the very south of Eleuthera. Visitors and descendants return to the Deep Creek settlement for that local experience of down home cooking, rake & scrape, talent shows, art & craft. Contact Mr. Mervin Sweeting at 364-1108.
25th, Junkanoo Summer Festival at Bayfront Park in Tarpum Bay. Junkanoo music groups, entertainers, public dancing, food stalls. July
6th to 11th, The Bluff Homecoming in North Eleuthera. Live band performances, Little Miss Bluff – Eleuthera Beauty Pageant, food and drinks. For info contact Rodney Green at 335-3113 in The Bluff settlement.
6th to 11th, Savannah Sound Homecoming in south-central Eleuthera. Fashion & cultural shows, down home cooking, dancing and live band performances. For info contact Majorie Culmer at 332-1288.
16th, Junkanoo Summer Festival at Bayfront Park in Governor's Harbour, from 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. The Junkanoo Rush-out will take place at 9:00 p.m. Music groups, entertainers, public dancing, food stalls. 27th July to 1st August.
- Bay Festival (Hatchet Bay). This is a homecoming fest. Marching band performances, worship, Little Miss Hatchet Bay Beauty Pageant and games. Contact Daryl Smith at 332-207 or Peter Davis at 335-1600 or 335-0632.
- Back to the (Tarpum Bay) Homecoming Festival. Like many other events, the Back to the Bay Homecoming consists of descendants and visitors returning to Tarpum Bay for a weekend of fun. Junkanoo, cultural & talent shows, native food and drinks. For info contact Patrick Johnson, 334-4135.
Softball Playoff begins. Games held in Palmetto Point, Rock Sound, Governor’s Harbour and James’ Cistern. Contact Mr. Andrea Butler at 332-2014 or 464-0616.12th to 16th October
- North Eleuthera Sailing Regatta: Major event held in Harbour Island.. Class A, B, and C Class boats are invited. Onshore activities include live band performances, cultural shows, native food and drinks and Bahamian music. For info contact Ricky Mackey at 333-2275 or the Harbour Island Tourist Office at 333-2621.
- Wemyss Bight Homecoming, south of Rock Sound. Brings Bahamians and visitors to Wemyss Bight in South Eleuthera, to celebrate and reminisce. Talent shows, food and drinks, live band performances and local crafts. For info contact James Young, at 334-0162.
3rd to 6th - Governor’s Harbour Homecoming. Attracts locals and visitors for a fun filled weekend. Activities include junkanoo, live band performances and games. For info contact Arthur Turnquest at 332-2748.
23rd to 27th - Green Castle Homecoming in South Eleuthera. Attracts family and friends for a weekend of celebrations, cultural activities, food, drinks, live band performances and games. For more info ontact Tony Butler at 334-4281.
26th - Arts and Crafts Exhibition at the Haynes Library in Governor's Harbour. Artists on Eleuthera display and sell their art and craft. Food and drinks will be on sale too. For info contact 332-2877.26th December
Junkanoo is the National Festival of the Bahamas. Junkanoo represents the Bahamian's roots and it is their heritage.
Junkanoo originated during the days of slavery when the slaves were given time off to celebrate the holidays with African dance, music and costume.
Junkanoo today is a traditional rally to cowbells, whistles and goat-skin drums as costumed revelers dance away. Parades in Tarpum Bay, Rock Sound and Harbour Island.
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