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Historical look at (29th June) Fisherman's Birthday Celebrations in Gouyave
By Arthur G Hosten JP
The Roman Catholic Church in Grenada, observed 29th June as the birthday of St. Peter, patron saint of Fishermen. The town of Gouyave, Grenada’s main fishing district has been the center of attractions for Fisherman's Birthday Celebrations. This takes on added significance since St. Peter’s Diocese in Grenada is also Gouyave. On June 29th Fishermen, vendors and their families attend Church services followed by a procession to the bay where the priest blesses boats, beautifully decorated. In the early sixties, boat races and merry making became part of the Fisherman's Birthday Celebration in Gouyave.
The first effort at a planned event was in 1980 when the PRG declared 29th June a half holiday. A committee was selected to plan the celebration and Ministers of Government came and gave speeches. In 1988, the first week of activities was started by the St. John's Development Committee under the Chairmanship of Arthur Hosten with the support of Grencoda, all villages in St. John were encouraged to participate in different aspect of the Celebrations. Struggle for control of the celebrations saw a drastic decline in the quality of the festival from 1991 to 1999.
The then Parliamentary Representative for St. John, Claris Charles at the 1999 celebrations saw the need to have a better planned festival, met with a committee mandated by the Gouyave Fishermen Association with the view of salvaging what was then become a street block O. The Gouyave Improvement Committee (GIC) headed by Arthur Hosten was again invited to manage the festival in 2000. Members of the GIC brought years of experience in Event Management, to make this festival second only to Spicemas. Hosten stepped down in 2006 to become the Event Manager of the festival The following years saw bigger and better participation and crowd response to the festival. The festival spread over a week of activities which encompasses all aspect of life in the parish, A massive Street Jam and Fireworks herald the culmination of June 29th The management of the festival is now using the Internet to bring this unique festival to the world.
Over the last five years scores of person have travelled from overseas for this festival, in 2003 over one hundred persons came from North America and England just to be part of the festival. We have received reports and enquiries from lots of persons about this year’s celebration. In 2004 an OAS sponsored group of forty persons mainly Event Planners and Tourism officials from around the Caribbean came to Gouyave to observe the celebrations and to make recommendations to their respective Governments about their own celebrations. All left Gouyave very impressed with the level of organisation and professionalism that were exhibited by the Committee involved. Despite Hurricane Ivan on 7th September 2004, Gouyave staged its biggest celebration in 2005 against all odds. In 2006, saw a new Chairman of the GIC in the person of school teacher, Mr. Albert Simon. Simon has been a member of the GIC for the last three years, got the support of the committee and community to stage another successful festival. The event also attracted Gayelle TV from Trinidad and Tobago which covered all aspect of the celebration and is now exposing it to its viewer in TNT and the rest of the world. Since 2000, the celebrations was able to attract top Caribbean entertainers and personalities. Most of the OECS's Ministers for Fisheries has made the trip to Gouyave to observed the festival.
- Errol Fabien
- Saluche' RIP
- Ricardo Keens Douglas
- Francis U Peters and Family Company
- Robert Whyte
- De leon Walters
- Composer (2X)
- Black Prince
- Trinidad Rio
- Singing Sandra
- Roy Cape
- Black Stalin
Members of the GIC has been invited by other countries to assist them in planning their own Fisherman's Birthday. The introduction of the website, gpogouyave.com (the only kind in Grenada that promotes/Markets' a parish) has exposed Fisherman's Birthday and Gouyave to the rest of the world. This has led to the Committee receiving the Gayelle TV 2007 Pierrot Award, as part of Trinidad and Tobago Independence celebrations
Fishermen Birthday objectives:
- To promote the use of Fish and its importances to healthy living.
- To promote the town of Gouyave and its way of life
- To honour the Fisher folks who have paved the way
- To promote aquatic events in the town.
In 2009, the GIC was unceremoniously dismissed and a new committee was given the festival to manage. The new committe hwhich was previously planning Carnival activities in St. John had its hand full and thus, Fisherman Birthday planning was left to suffer. This has led to a drastic drop in the quality of the event, bringing it back to the street block O type.
In 2013, the GIC was again invited to spearhead the event and since then continue to manage what is Grenada's 2nd biggest event.