Mango Melee returns to Botanical Garden | 24/7 Island Action

ST. CROIX — One of the territory’s most popular summer fruits will be celebrated this weekend as the St. George Village Botanical Garden hosts the 26th Annual Mango Melee and Tropical Fruits Festival from noon on Sunday. The event is one of the most anticipated summer activities on island, especially since the grand celebration, canceled for two years due to COVID-19, is now making an in-person comeback.

Positive Nelson, chairman of the Board of Directors at the Botanical Garden, said this year the Gardens is celebrating its 50th anniversary in conjunction with Mango Melee. Over the years, Mango Melee — held across the sprawling 6-acre Garden property — has helped to develop a greater appreciation for tropical fruits, especially mangoes. Nelson said the event will feature educational workshops and activities for the entire family and acts as a fundraiser for the garden’s programming that they conduct throughout the year.

“We are really excited about getting back to the in-person event as Mango Melee is one of those events that have become a staple for summertime in St. Croix,” he said. “There is a great buzz as people are becoming more comfortable with being outside and we are seeing the endemic stages of COVID-19.”

Nelson said he expects to see record numbers of attendees because there has been a lot of inquiries about the online ticket sales and vendor information. He said there will be craft and food vendors in addition to some farmers. Entertainment will be top notch and expected to draw a good crowd beginning with the opening ceremony at 1 p.m., according to Nelson.

One attraction is the”Mango This/Mango That” competition that highlights chefs and cooks from around the Virgin Islands competing with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, desserts, salsas, sauces, johnny cakes and other foods all made with mangoes featured as the prominent ingredient.

There will be performances from majorettes, moko jumbies, quadrille dancers, Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights and more.

The crowd favorite, the mango eating contest, will also be held. For the first time, Mango Melee will run through 7 p.m. and will feature a Sunset Reggae Concert from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Bodine Center. Nelson said it will feature reggae sensation Desiree Eugene, Nile “Naza Nile” James, Gyasi Clarke, and others.

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