Fisherman's Birthday

Historical look at (29th June) Fisherman's Birthday Celebrations in Gouyave
By Arthur G Hosten JP

The Roman Catholic Church in Grenada observes 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 beautifully decorated boats are blessed. 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 attended 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 and met with a committee mandated by the Gouyave Fishermen Association with the view of salvaging the celebrations that had degenerated into a "Street Blocko".

The Gouyave Improvement Committee (GIC) headed by Arthur Hosten was again invited to manage the celebrations in 2000. Members of the GIC brought years of experience in Event Management, and made the organization and quality of the celebrations second only to Spicemas.

The following years saw bigger and better participation and crowd response to the celebrations. It now spreads 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 celebrations 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 Fisheman's Birthday Celebrations, in 2003 over one hundred persons came from North America and England. 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 was exhibited by the Committee involved.

Despite Hurricane Ivan on 7th September 2004, against all odds, Gouyave staged its biggest celebration in 2005.

2006, saw a new Chairman of the GIC in the person of school teacher, Mr. Albert Simon. Simon who had been a member of the GIC for three years prior to his appointment as Chairman, 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 exposed it to their viewers in TNT and the rest of the world. Since 2000, the celebrations were able to attract top Caribbean entertainers and personalities including most of the OECS's Ministers for Fisheries. 

Comedians:
  1. Errol Fabien
  2. Saluche' RIP
  3. Ricardo Keens Douglas
  4. Francis U Peters and Family Company
  5. Robert Whyte
  6. De leon Walters
 
Calypsonians:
  1. Brigo
  2. Allrounder
  3. Composer (2X)
  4. Black Prince
  5. Trinidad Rio
  6. Singing Sandra
  7. Bomber
  8. Roy Cape
  9. Black Stalin
  10. Gyrnner
  11. Shadow
 
Members of the GIC has been invited by other countries to assist them in planning their own Fisherman's Birthday Celebrations. The introduction of the website, gogouyave.com (the only kind in Grenada that promotes/markets' a parish) has exposed Fisherman's Birthday Celebrations 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.

Fisherman's Birthday Celebrations objectives:
  • To promote the use of Fish and its importance 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 committee which was previously planning Carnival activities in St. John had its hand full and thus, Fisherman's Birthday Celebrations planning was left to suffer. This led to a drastic drop in the quality of the event, bringing it back to the "Street Blocko" type of activity.

In 2013, the GIC was again invited to spearhead the event and since then continue to manage what is Grenada's 2nd biggest event.