In officially opening the 45th Annual Conch Cracking Festival in McLean’s Town, during the National Heroes Day Holiday – Monday, October 9 – Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama said that places like McLean’s Town remain an ecological dream, a paradise by many standards.
“Therefore, I want to encourage you to enjoy the beauty of these communities and the surrounding Cays,” Deputy Prime Minister Turnquest told the hundreds of participants at the annual festival, which was held at McLean’s Town All-Age school.
The event not only featured an array of Bahamian dishes made from conch, but offered a variety of other Bahamian-made dishes, desserts and drinks, as well as the sounds of Bahamian music throughout the day.
The highlight of the festival was the Conch Cracking Competition, in which locals as well as visitors were invited to participate.
Competitions included how quickly one could extract a conch from its shell, a conch eating competition and a conch cleaning competition.
During his opening and welcome remarks, Turnquest noted that because McLean’s Town and many communities in the East End area are so far away from the City of Freeport, not many people bother to make the long trek to visit those communities.
He said this was both a blessing and a curse. “It’s a blessing, because it has allowed this community to pretty much stay pristine and genuine – a true reflection of Bahamian culture here on Grand Bahama. It’s a curse, because it does not expose as often as we like what is so special and unique about McLean’s Town, Rocky Creek and the Cays.
“I want to particularly welcome and invite our guests – from abroad and from Nassau and other Family Islands – to not only enjoy the activities and the food here at this festival, but to take time out to enjoy the environment that surrounds you here today.”
DPM Turnquest pointed out that each of the islands within The Bahamas is unique in its own special way, even though Bahamians all share a general culture.
He pointed out that if one went from one island to another or, in some cases, from one settlement to another it would be easy to realize that Bahamians are a diverse group of people, with diverse cultural customs in the way they cook, the way they dress and the way they speak.
“I want to encourage that inter-island tourism, particularly among our own citizens, but also among our visitors from abroad; and don’t think that because you’ve been to Grand Bahama that you’ve experienced it all,” added Turnquest. “I can assure you that this is only but a taste of our 700 islands. So, I want you to think about coming back and getting an opportunity to experience what each of our islands has to offer.”
The East End Member of Parliament said that the 45th Conch Cracking Festival was a celebration of the original event, which distinguishes the community of McLean’s Town as well as celebrates its history as a fishing and conching village, where the people of the community obtained their livelihood from the sea.
“That’s why I’m so happy that the chairman of this committee and members of his team have continued this great tradition, (and) even in the midst of great odds and discouraging events at times, continue to press on to ensure that this tradition lives on and continues to grow,” he said.