First ever Village Expo a huge Success

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) in partnership with the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) hosted its first ever Village Arts and Craft Expo this year. The Expo took place at the Princess Hotel & Casino’s King’s Room on Saturday, May 12th between the hours of 9am and 4pm. The organizers originally catered to 80 booths but once the Expo began, they quickly had to add additional booths. There were a total of 97 booths featuring local products for the general public to experience and sample. Products showcased included local jewelry (earring, chains, bracelets), slate carvings, paintings, embroidery, wood work (bowls, picture frames, carvings, etc), clay pottery, sewn and crochet dresses, skirts, blouses and pillows, woven baskets, locally made cultural sweets, pepper sauces, home made soy sauce, locally made sauces, carpentry (chairs, tables etc), black cake coloring which is also used to give chicken its golden color in stew or baked, recycled material purses and arts to name a few.

Speaking of the event, Organizer Clive Myers, Destination Planning and Development Coordinator, for the BTB stated, “The Village Arts and Craft Expo was an initiative that branched out of the Destination Planning’s Umbrella project – Village Outreach. The BTB has realized that many of the rural communities can play an important role in developing our tourism industry since many of these communities sit just on the border of important archeological sites and forest reserves. There are many who currently make unique local products that the BTB is not aware of.  In creating a database of who these people are and where they can be contacted will definitely help the BTB with marketing these products, the producers or makers and the destinations in which they can be found and as a result – the Village Expo initiative was created.

Village Expo 2012 brought small producers together under one roof to showcase their unique products to a variety of buyers and opened an avenue to a new and direct way of marketing to gift shops, hotels, stores, supermarkets, corporate businesses, homes and the consumer at large to include even visiting tourists.

Mr. and Mrs. Sutherland of Corozal were at the Expo showcasing their products and spoke of their items on exhibit as well as how they came up with their very refreshing bubbly blackberry wine; “Today we are displaying three different products; our natural juices, our Tambranero sauce – a tambran based habañero sauce and our most popular item, the sparkling blackberry wine. The wine, we honestly simply stumbled across. It’s not as alcoholic as most wines, it’s mild so people tend to use it for toasting like at weddings and so for the.” And after taking two samples as opposed to one, I must concur the wine is definitely a keeper. Not very strong but it does have a kick. It is mildly sweet and has a fruity, bubbly taste to it. “We just stumbled across the wine because we already made blackberry juices. In attempting to store them long term in glass bottles, we just sort of created a wine and it was delicious. Our friends just loved it and so we started experimenting with it, to see if we could create the same bubbly yet fruity effect, and this is our end product.” The Sutherland’s business is located in the Corozal District and they deliver at a cost. For more information on any of their items feel free to give them a call at 602-8067 or via email to [email protected].

While many coral and wood arts were on display, some jewelry and table pieces that stood out to me for their uniqueness in  size – miniature, precise and detailed curves were those of Tropical Treasures. Victor Alamina, proprietor spoke of the art pieces they had on display; “We have Black coral, Angel coral, Wilk shell, Conch shell, Coconut shell and even some local wood. We have ziricote, mahogany and rosewood. But these wood carvings are not like your usual wood carvings, they are actually ear rings. In the other items, we have necklaces, bracelets, earrings and we even have some carvings made from the conch shell, we have created turtles, dolphins and even a variety of fishes. What makes our products more special? For one, we take more time in doing our finishing work, we don’t do anything in a hurry, just to go out and make a sale. We try to give the customers quality instead of just making for quantity.” For more information on Tropical Treasure, find them on facebook at www.facebook.com/tropicaltreasuresbelize.

Village Expo was packed to capacity with vendors and shoppers from across the country. It was the perfect occasion for individuals to check out the huge variety of arts, craft and culture that Belize has to offer, while taking advantage of great deals for bulk purchase. Throughout the day entertainment was provided by the Larubeya Boys, Mr. Peter’s Brukdong Band and intermission dancing from the Yo Creek Mestizo Dancers. In speaking on whether this will be a yearly event, Myers sated, “With the Expo being a huge success on Saturday, we can surely say that it will be an annual event. We had approximately 97 participants which clearly surpassed our expected amount.

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