Bahamians and many of Bahamian descent came together in Washington DC as the Embassy of The Bahamas sought to give DC a taste of Bahamian culture. The Embassy recreated the 'Fish Fry' aesthetic on the grounds - a sort of "Party In The Back Yard" - to which 4,600 people flocked over the course of the day on Saturday, May 14. (Photos by K. Quincy Parker)
– About four thousand six hundred people visited the Embassy of
The Commonwealth of The Bahamas in Washington DC as part of Passport
DC’s “Around The World Embassy Tour” on Saturday, May 14, hankering
for a taste of Bahamian culture.
For the third consecutive year,
the Embassy took part in the popular event which sees tens of thousands
flock to DC to sample the cultures of the countries represented by the
Embassies in Washington. And for the third consecutive year, word about
the conch fritters and ‘Sky Juice’ offered by the Embassy of The
Bahamas filtered through the crowd of travellers, making The Bahamas
one of the more popular stops on the circuit.
Nearly two dozen Bahamians
– headed by Bahamas Ambassador to the US Cornelius A Smith and
including both Embassy staff and Bahamians and people of Bahamian descent
living in the DC Metro area – came together to put on the event,
working days in advance to prepare the Embassy grounds to host the event,
putting up decorations and adjusting the layout of the grounds to make
the visitor experience the best it could be.
In addition to Bahamas-themed
decorations, posters of Junkanoo and other Bahamian scenes were put
up around the grounds, providing rich splashes of colour and vibrancy.
However, it was the other sort of decoration that proved to be most
popular: Junkanoo headpieces. A number of Junkanoo headpieces were placed
around the grounds, and it was only a short while before people started
trying them on and posing for pictures (
see accompanying photos).
The Junkanoo pieces proved to be one of the biggest attractions of The
Tasting conch fritters. Photo: K. Quincy Parker
The main attraction, however,
was the cuisine. The conch fritters – with a batter prepared by Chef
Apple Wells, who will also be catering The Bahamas Independence Celebrations
in DC this July – were an immensely popular offering, garnering fulsome
praise from tasters. Many people could be seen taking notes on the ingredients,
and many a thoughtful expression could be observed on what could only
have been slow-chewing home cooks.
The ‘Sky Juice’ –
that inimitable Bahamian concoction of spirits and coconut water –
was also extremely popular.
“What is that? That is delicious,”
exclaimed one particularly moved patron. His sentiments were echoed
many times throughout the course of the day.
The Embassy also pumped up
the volume on the Junkanoo music, which played from the early morning
until after the event ended. There were occasional dance lessons, wherein
Embassy staff taught visitors how to “rush,” and how to do “the
Vola,” among other dance steps.
Among the many benefits of
the event – which included a chance for the volunteers to sample
some of Chef Apple’s cuisine! – a major boon was that members of
the Bahamian community in DC came together and got to know each other
while enthusiastically promoting Bahamian culture.
Trying Bahamian drinks. Photo: K. Quincy Parker
About Passport DC
Cultural Tourism DC, a DC-based
company that aims to boost tourism into the DC Metro area, held the
first Embassy Open House – part of “Passport DC” – in 2008.
The event was a success, and Cultural Tourism DC decided to make it
an annual event. In 2009, the second year of the event’s existence,
the Embassy of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas was one of about 30 embassies
in Washington DC that opened their doors to the DC Metro community.
This year, 35 Embassies participated in the event.
Bahamas Ambassador to Washington, His Excellency, Cornelius Smith talks with a guest. Photo: K. Quincy Parker
Taking photos with Junkanoo headwear Photo: K. Quincy Parker