Cayman’s 54th Agriculture Show
Ash Wednesday is a notable start and end date for religious and cultural events worldwide, but in Cayman we celebrate ‘the Ag Show’. On 22 February 2023, the Agriculture (“Ag”) Show will celebrate its 54th year and residents will flock to the Agricultural Grounds in Bodden Town. Seeing that it’s a family friendly event, I’d attend annually with my family when I was growing up and we loved exploring the different caveats that the venue had to offer. This all day event (literally from dawn until dusk) is all about bountiful produce, local entertainment, friendly competition, Caymanian cuisine and so much more.
Before I jump into my list of things that I love most about the Ag Show, I have a few Island Epicurean Pro Tips. First, go early – not only will there be less traffic to get in and out, but the temperatures are cooler. Second, (on the subject of heat) you’ll notice that this time of year the temperature turns up a notch, so make sure to wear sunscreen, a hat/ sunglasses and keep hydrated. Lastly, this may be the Super Bowl of all farmers markets on island, but many vendors are small scale and may not have card machines, which means cash is king! If you want to experience a day saturated with Caymanian tradition, the Ag Show is not to be missed.
Eat Like A Local
There are so many different tastes available at the Ag Show that you’ll find it difficult to not buy something. I start with smaller items and work my way up. I seek out farmers selling ziplocks filled with ‘green mango and sauce’ (a vinegar and seasoning salt-based concoction) then pop over to Willie’s Fruit Stall to purchase coconut candy, heavy cakes, fruit tarts, juices and smoothies.
The hot food stalls section get quite busy around lunch time as everyone is looking for their fill of stewed turtle, Cayman style beef, fish rundown, stewed conch and more, but if you go early you can find a few serving Caribbean breakfast items. I tend to visit the stalls helmed by North Side and East End cooks (my family’s side of the island), but if you’re in doubt, a long line is usually a good sign for good food! Sweet treats for the kids can be found quite easily as well, from sno-cones and cotton candy to ice cream.
Don’t have a green thumb and need a jumpstart on your home garden? The Ag Show is perfect for this because the farmers bring plants that are potted and ready to go, including small sprouts to those that are already producing. From peppers and herbs to fruit trees and decorative flowers, there’s a plant for you. Take time to learn from these knowledgeable individuals because they’ve figured out how to navigate the challenging circumstances that our climate brings, be it sun, soil or salt. Having recently made it my goal in 2023 to start a herb garden, I have thus far not killed anything, but the struggle to keep them alive continues so I need all the help I can get!
The Ag Show is a full fledged day of events where some take place all day long, while others are scheduled to captivate the crowds. Be on the lookout for pony rides and the petting zoo, cheer on pageant participants, witness the horse riding or get close to the livestock (the pigs were my favourite because they are ginormous). Cayman’s heritage will be on full display, so listen closely whenever you hear live local music playing and watch as craftsmen and women silently carve or thatch with precision. These are skills you don’t see as often anymore and they should be appreciated.
It truly is a wonderful event for any resident or visitor on island that want to be submersed into Caymanian traditions over the course of one day. I look forward to seeing you out there on Ash Wednesday!