A week of activities commencing Sunday, October 26 has been set aside to showcase the arts and crafts of The Bahamas.

It culminates at week’s end when artisans throughout the islands transform the Western Esplanade into an array of gems found only in The Bahamas.

The 11th BahamArts Festival is hosted by BAIC’s Handicraft Development and Marketing Department, headed by Donnalee Bowe. The week begins with church services. Monday and Tuesday will feature a training program in decorative plaiting at the Holy Cross Anglican Church Center.

Teams from BAIC and the Bahamas National Craft Association will also visit high schools to promote souvenir production. Wednesday and Thursday have been set aside for the third annual general meeting and election of officers of the Bahamas National Craft Association.

On Saturday, high school hands compete for the coveted Battle of the Bands award.

And on Sunday, ladies will gather for their annual gala tea party featuring delicate Bahamian and international brews.

Entertainment will be provided by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Band, the Falcons, the Voice of Praise, CREAM Gospel, and the Pathfinders.

“Our Handicraft Development and Marketing Department has been making a concerted effort to have as many Bahamians as who want to, trained in Bahamian souvenir creation using, as far as possible, only locally found ingredients,” said Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation executive chairman Edison Key.

“Bahamians across-the-board have embraced the opportunity. New creative concepts have been discovered especially in shell craft, coconut craft, straw work, combinations of these and more.

“From hats and handbags of various styles and fashions to jewelry, broaches, tie pins, pendants, decorations, lamps, mugs and much more are being produced in the Bahamas right now.”

He encouraged Bahamians to “tap into the many millions of Bahamian dollars sent out of the country to import souvenirs for our tourists.

“There is, even now, no need to import souvenirs. Our tourists tell us they do not want them anyway. They want something Bahamian.

“We therefore call on vendors at the straw market downtown Bay Street and elsewhere and all other tourist outlets to Bahamianize their product. Sell Bahamian-made souvenirs.

“I am heartened by the fact that more Bahamians are wearing Bahamian-made. In this regard, women are leading the way and have made Bahamian handbags, for example, a fashion statement.”