Craft Fair Was a Buffet For The Senses The Village Arts and craft expo was held to coincide with the opening of the Memorial Park. The event made effective use of the walkway to show off craft makers from all over the country. It was like a buffet for the senses and 7 News was there:…
Jules Vasquez reporting
Over 180 arts and craft makers from throughout the country filled up the eastern flank of the Memorial Park on Saturday for the Village Arts and Craft Expo. All sorts of exotic creations were on display, from traditional Cuxtal Maya bags to cacao, coffee and Carambola wine with mango jam:
Sally Evans - Steadfast Village - 'Rainforest Women'
"Well di jam, it's the first time Steadfast village has lots of mangoes, so we decided to use mangoes, using the ripe mangoes to make these jams"
Angelita Can - Aguacate Village
"This is grind pepper, this is what the Kekchi people mostly like. If they don't have meat they eat it with corn tortilla."
Julio Saqui - Che'il Cacao , Maya Center
"Everybody goes for chocolate."
"And you make different varieties?"
"We are only making five flavors at the moment, doing regular milk, mint, doing coffee, ginger and the Sweet, bitter, dark
"How many hours does it take to make one of those?"
Minita Cucul - Toledo District
"It takes three hours."
"Three hours? One person?"
"We usually make it with needle and thread, and we use it to cover tortillas."
Desiree Arnold - Manager, Maya Bags
"Today we have 90 women in our group and we basically work with the skills of women already have. We develop a product that is more modern to promote in stores in the US. We're not in New York at Barney's any more but we're in other stores. As you know everything has to change and keep moving."
"So how much were these selling for at the height of the popularity at Barneys in New York?"
Mirza Perez - Azrim Kreashans
"These are recycled bottles from wines and liquors, and of course from food items and what I do is I uniquely hand paint them and decorate them."
So from Azrim’s Bottles to Winston Francisco’s Paintings, these craft makers don’t do this to make money; they do it because they are compelled to create:
"Do you make a living doing this?"
Filberto Choco - Toledo
"Yes this is my living, this is how I live."
"Do you make a lot of money?'
"I can't say a lot, but at least I make something."
"Why did you guys decide to make craft."
"Well because we are Moms, we have kids, we are stay at home Moms so we find time to do different things to make money."
"Things we can make in between time and I think this is something that you know, we as girls, we love to do this, we grew up doing this and like my Mom says 'it's best to do something that you love so that you never feel you've worked a day in your life. feel good when I make stuff. I feel happy making stuff for me, for people. I love to see how they feel good when they like it. We make stuff for people and we keep them for ourselves, we can't help it, our creativity, we just have to share with people, and share with everybody.
"This one looks good, I will keep it for myself."
Dangriga Town - Undertaker/Craft Maker
"This is a long lasting business. I plan to do this for life, until I die, so I am not worried about the item I have because one day, if I don't sell it, somebody will sell it, my Grand kids, my kids, somebody."
Mirza Perez - Azrim Kreashans
"I have worked different places and I have now found what I really really love. I enjoy every part of this art, everything; from the beginning, from washing the bottles to the last, I enjoy it."
And so did the shoppers on Saturday – they were treated to a visual buffet of almost limitless unique hand-made choices:
Darrell Bradley, Mayor, Belize City
"I was walking around, I spent almost a hundred dollars. The things, tahe products were really of that quality and very very good."
Nicholas Ruiz, Executive Director, BELTRAIDE
"This show is designed to showcase your products, to create a form for you to be able to sell your magnificent creations."
In Defence Of The Memorial Park “Panades Shacks” Last night we told you about the opening of the Belize City Fort Point Pedestrian Walk, the centerpiece of which is the Memorial Park. With funding from the IDB, the park has gotten a thorough makeover and re-design. And while it is probably now the premier public space in the city – there are elements that can come off as unappealing. We contemplated the good and the bad when we spoke to the project director at Saturday’s Launch:…..
Christy Mastry - Project Director - STP
"Then we really wanted to create a significant portion of the park to really commemorate the Memorial that had always stood there, with the granite memorial and the top of it was there for several year that had been damaged. We wanted to restore that and the namesake."
Darrell Bradley - Mayor of Belize City
"They really spent a lot to preserve the character of this park to be Memorial Park - memorializing our veterans who have served Belize and others in war and so I'm very pleased that they managed to maintain that character."
"Then we really wanted to enhance the stage for public events and all of the original traditional events that we have in September - so we created a big plaza in front of it for ease of putting up chairs and tens as you can see today. We're standing on what is the flag pole where we will the 20th raising and it is the tallest flag pole within the country right now which can house the largest flag. Then we took an edge of the park which is roughly 3/4 of an acre and we really added the Kiosks to really take care of all of the public vending that used to happen on the public side walks - so that's what you're looking at. That becomes the sustainability element along with the paid bathrooms that are at the park today."
"Those same stalls have come under criticism - they look like 'panades shacks' it's been said - how do you answer that criticism that it's sort of befouls the overall aesthetics of the park."
"I know there's been a lot of comments of the design of the Kiosk, understanding that the kiosks sit underneath the trellis and I think people are used to seeing these kiosk with the traditional pinched roof and we did go with the more slanted flat roof which very much involve certain images of other things over the water, at certain times - we've gotten the comments. I mean once they’re open on a day to day basis - they open from both sides and they're serving the population and people are engaged around the kiosk - I really believe that the 'panades' will sell and it will maintain the grass."
"But at the same time this is a hurricane zone, this is a waterfront and it will just blow away - how do you answer that?"
"Well, basically what we looked at very much were things that can be potentially damaged during a hurricane - we do have the posts and all of the structure for the trellis work, secured into the concrete that we don't anticipate those blowing away. Maybe we do loose a few slots around the stage, a few of the trellis pieces or components - that is always a danger in any environment."
"Is it responsible building to use that material?"
"Yes, there roofs are not going to randomly fly off - they are still bolted down during high winds, any more than any other roof of any private building around the area would be flying off itself or any pieces of a dock - per se - in the occasion. The reality is that these are very well put together structures and the openness through them is that they won't be picking up wind lift - there will actually be breeze flowing through."
"How will the city maintain this park - I know that there isn't a love more of concrete than you but this park, a lot of it is built on wood. Obviously you can see that this part is already weather beaten - how will the City Council make sure that it can maintain it so that it doesn't start looking decrepit."
"Well that is one of the beauty in our agenda items and strategy - we are really seeking partners and in this project, our important partner is really the BTB and the Ministry of Tourism so the park has officially been handed back over to the city today but what we had agreed on going forward is - of course you know the budgetary constraints of the city and our limitations of maintaining public spaces including public spaces of this quality. We will execute a co-management agreement and through this we have committed in maintain a physical space - they have a lot more resources than the City Council has and you've indicated that it's a lot of green and it's a lot of maintenance and so they will maintain the park for us for a minimum period of 5 years."
"The only thing that we're installing now is traffic signs that you will see that will take place on the actual street themselves, trash cans that still need to go into the park and then other signage for the country as far as way-finding and other activities and events that will happen throughout the park itself. "
"But you all had said 16 months,"
"The reality is that we completed all the construction at the end of th 16 months which was around April - there were other things that we were adding."
As the mayor noted, the Ministry of Tourism will co-manage, meaning pay for the maintenance of the park for the first five years.