MASTER OF CEREMONIES, MR. PAUL MAHUNG
The Toledo District hosted its third annual Cacao Festival over the Commonwealth Day holiday weekend in Belize, on May 22- 24th, 2009. The festival was organized by the Toledo Chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association and the Toledo Cacao Growers Association which is based in Punta Gorda Town.
This festival is a celebration of chocolate and is fast becoming a regular feature for the Belize Tourism Industry. Visitors came from all over Belize and overseas. The Toledo District is the original home of organic cacao and Belizean chocolate in Belize. The cultivation of cacao orchards is grown in the shade of other trees and since the farmers do not have to cut down the forest, this makes it the best situation for the environment. The farmers are paid a premium rate of BZ$2.50 lb. for the cacao beans that are grown organically.
Under the canopy of a Cacao Tree
Cacao Beans from the pods, drying in the sun for seven days after fermentation
Cacao Farmer and Alcalde(a local Maya Magistrate), Galo Mejeamgre (Ketchi Maya) of San Felipe, ToledoThe Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) represents over 200 cacao growers in Southern Belize and co-ordinates the production and sale of the beans to Green & Black’s in the United Kingdom where it is transformed into the world renowned Mayan Gold Chocolate. Green & Black’s provide technical expertise and assistance to farmers, from growing and planting seedlings to the harvesting and fermenting process. Green & Black’s along with the TCGA is making a difference to the economy and the people of Southern Belize.
Rene' of LOVE FM & TV
Dr. Jane Crawford
(L) Cedric Arnold
(C) Dr. Ludwig Palacio
Robert Tillett, Janine Tillett, Becky Crawford, Dr. Ludwig Palacio and Linda Crawford
The festival began on Friday night with an elegant “Wine & chocolate” evening at the terrace of the University of Belize in Punta Gorda Town. Tickets for the event were BZ$50.00 and one got to enjoy fabulous food, fine imported wines, great cocktails, and of course, great company.
The student on the right is the son of Ruby Tillett of Crooked Tree Village, attending school in Toledo
Students from the Delille Academy Choir from Dangriga performed a selection of Garifuna and Creole songs. Marimba music accompaniment was provided by students from the Tumul K’in Center of Learning in Blue Creek Village.
The Taste of Toledo fair took place at the Punta Gorda Central Park from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. It’s a day of Cacao, chocolate products, craft and culture! Roasted Cacao beans, Kukuh drink and performances from local dancers and drummers; visitors could have also enticed their taste buds with a number of the cultural dishes of the Toledo District….Hudut, Caldo, Cohune Cabbage with rice and beans and much more.
The “Cacao for Kids” portion of the fair includes heaps of entertainment for the kids, face painting, storytelling, punchboard, chess competition and much more.
Miss Cacao Fest 2009-2010: Arianie Teul
Saturday night was the “Culture in Harmony” music event. At 7:00 p.m. we witnessed the first ever Miss Teen Cacao Fest 2009-2010. Five Toledo beauties performed cultural dances and demonstrated their knowledge of Cacao and the history of Cacao production. Ms. Arianie Teul was crowned “MISS TEEN CACAO-FEST”.
The show then moved on to special music at various venues around the town. New Vibes at the Reef Bar was playing Reggae, Paranda, Soca, Punta and Cumbia with chocolate cocktails.
Umalali Drummers at Grace’s Restaurant- with Conch Soup, Grilled Conch and Grilled Shrimp
Garifuna Drumming featuring Luwaruguma Peini at Beya Suites- with BBQ Conch and Fish with a special Cacao Fever Grass Drink.
Local documentary of Toledo at Garbutt’s Marine Investment- Marine Buffet Style
Cool J”s band at Tranquility Lodge joined Sheila and Rusty Nale for Caribbean music-Cacao themed menu; BZ$50.00
Unfortunately, we did not have enough time in one night to see all the performances.On Sunday the third and final day of the festivities featured the Cacao Trails Tours and cultural presentation at Lubaantun Maya Ruin. The Cacao Trail Tours takes visitors on a working Cacao orchard. The events at Lubaantun included a performance of the Mooro Dance and a Mayan Ball Game played by the Mayan centuries ago. The Mooro Dance was performed by the villagers of Santa Cruz and depicted the history of the wars between the Maya and the Europeans, which includes stylized battles and sword fighting.
The final concert at the Central Park featured the music of the Queen of PG Culture, Ms. Lee-Laa Vernon!! “Hibba Longshow” backed by the Cool J’s Band from San Pedro, Ambergis Caye.
To find out more information for next year’s festivities, please visit the festival’s Website at www.toledochocolate.com or Toledo Howler on belizenews.com Thanks to all!
All photos by Robert Tillett