Residents and visitors to the Territory will celebrate the 2020 Emancipation Festival celebration virtually and physically from July 31 to August 5.
Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley made the announcement during the Thirteenth Sitting of the Second Session of the Fourth House of Assembly.
Honourable Wheatley said that despite COVID-19, Emancipation Festival will go on as this year marks 70 years since the restoration of the Territory’s legislative council and that the ability for residents to vote and choose representatives accountable to them is an important development in their long walk to freedom.
Honourable Wheatley stated that Emancipation must be ever present on the minds of the people as they seek to wipe clean any remnants of colonialism existing within the society regardless of how covert they might be.
While making reference to the murder of American George Floyd and the protests for change worldwide, Honourable Wheatley said persons in the Virgin Islands must understand how their emancipation and their struggle for autonomy are connected to the worldwide struggle for equal rights and justice.
He said, “It is against this backdrop, we will celebrate our emancipation, and celebrate it in such a fashion that gives honour to our ancestors.”
Honourable Wheatley added, “We all know that COVID-19 has impacted how we go about our daily lives. Inevitably, our celebrations this year will look different. COVID-19, however, has provided us with the opportunity to be more creative, to have more focus on our local arts and culture, and to make sure our heritage is properly recognised.”
This year’s festival will observe all the COVID-19 social distancing and sanitisation protocols. The schedules of events are:
Friday, July 31
- Cultural Food Fair, Pier Park – 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
- Virtual Opening Ceremony – 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
- Virtual Poetry Slam 7:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 1
- Farmers Market in Carrot Bay – 6:00: a.m. until
Sunday, August 2
- Virtual Emancipation Services – 3:00 p.m.
- Virtual Gospel Explosion with Kendra, Onekye, Jovan Cline, Dwight Hutchinson, Brent Hoyte and others. – 7:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Monday, August 3
- Virtual VI Soca Showcase – 7:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Tuesday, August 4
- Virtual Calypso Review – 7:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Wednesday, August 5
- Festival of Culture and Praise in Long Look/East End
All virtual activities will be streamed on the Virgin Islands Festival and Fairs Committee’s Facebook page @VirginIslandsFestival.
The theme for the celebrations is “BVI Festival 2020: Be Fully Free: Emancipate Yourself from Mental Slavery as we Celebrate our Virgin Islands History!” with the slogan “Our Cultural Heritage in the Mix as BVI Festival Celebrates its 66!”