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Christmas Market in Lopinot

Published: 
Thursday, December 17, 2015
There will be tours of Count Lopinot House, shown above, at the first Lopinot Christmas Market this Sunday (December 20) in the picturesque Lopinot village north of Arouca in the foothills of the Northern Range. All are invited. PHOTO: Alethea McIntyre, courtesy The National Trust.

Come dance the Maypole, and experience the remote, rustic beauty of Lopinot this Christmas season. 

This is the invitation of Lopinot residents as they host their very first Christmas Market this Sunday, December 20, from 10 am to 3 pm.

Children and grown ups can learn to dance the maypole (you can pay $10 to learn), tour the historic Count Lopinot house, enjoy roast corn made on a coal pot, or see how the old timers used to boil ham in a biscuit tin or bake bread in the open air earth oven. There will be tasty local chocolates, including ToryVen made by Cafe Mariposa and chocolates by the Lopinot Chocolate Company, which is managed by the village council. And a chicken or pork lunch will be sold (at $50/$60), as well as lots of local delicacies including pastelles, paime, cassava pone, and even some local cocktails. Award-winning chocolate ponche de crème will also be on sale.

There will be no loud soca music, say the organisers, but instead, more peaceful and festive Christmas music, including the sounds of traditional parang such as the songs of Daisy Voisin or Gloria Alcazar. A brand new neighbourhood children’s parang band (formed just last week) will be making their debut performance, too; the youngest member is just ten years old.

The whole idea is to “get a little footloose, and just enjoy yourself in a simple way, the way little children might have done a long time ago,” says Marcia Guerrero, a member of the committee organising the event. And for the children, there will be spaces to play (or learn to play) those forgotten playground games like moral and hop scotch.

There is absolutely no entrance fee to the public; instead, there are small fees for individual activities, such as the $10 tours. Through emerging events such as this one, the Lopinot community is trying to develop a sustainable way of earning a living.

The Lopinot Countrystyle Community Tourism (LCCT), a non-governmental organisation, is organising the event. 

The Christmas market is just one of a series of initiatives spurred by community training sessions earlier this year spearheaded by the National Trust of T&T. 

“Lopinot has been in minds and hearts of many people for a long time,” said Marcia Gerrero in a telephone interview with the Guardian: “Many visit people us. But the people in the valley didn’t quite know how to unlock the value in their village. The National Trust pioneered the whole initiative to have us trained. Training was held July 10-14 this year, geared to people managing their village as a sustainable business. We were very fortunate to have Diana McIntyre-Pike, a consultant from Jamaica whose specialty is rural tourism, come to train us. She came thanks to support from the TT Ministry of Tourism, the Tourism Development Company, the Ministry of Community Development, and the Ministry of Planning (under whose umbrella the National Trust exists).

“Diana brought different people in, such as tour operators, artists and others. The intention is that every household in the village can eventually earn their living by marketing what they have here to local and foreign visitors, whether it's craft, food, or a place to stay.”

“It is our first year, and we are now finding our feet,” said Guerrero, saying that the event will develop as more villagers see the potential of developing community tourism products and services in Lopinot. 

MORE INFO

What: Lopinot Country Style Christmas Market

When: Sunday, December 20, 10 am – 3 pm

Where: Count Lopinot Historic House

Contact: 708-2555; or email [email protected]; or message their Facebook page

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