Story & Photos by Stan Bishop
Located almost split in the middle of Saint Lucia’s eastern coastline, Dennery has earned the enviable reputation of being one of the island’s most cultural, economic, captivating and fertile regions.
Known formerly as Lance Canot and Le Grand Mabouya, the area was later named after Count d’Ennery, who had written extensively on Saint Lucia in 1765 and 1767, and later became Governor-General of the Windward Islands.
Mabouya Valley, which forms a large part of Dennery, is known for its fertile soils and major banana plantations. Dennery is also known for its fishing prowess and former sugar estates. However, it’s the collective contributions of Dennery that have allowed the east coast district to make its indelible mark.
Local attractions include the 20-metre high Sault Falls located on the Dennery River; the Frigate Islands Nature Reserve, a breeding area for sea birds; and the popular Dennery Seafood Fiesta held every Saturday which showcases some of the most delicious Saint Lucian recipes. There’s also the pristine and picturesque Fond D’Or Heritage Park where musical and other events are held.
Alleyne Regis, a cultural and community activist from Dennery, is part of Infinity, a group of especially young people involved in development work. The group recently received a grant to develop a small area near the Dennery Fire Station which features a number of booths. They intend to repaint the booths to give them a forest motif and rename the area Iyanola Crossing.
“The whole idea is to raise awareness about the wildlife crossing the road,” Regis said. “The project has a tourism slant for the simple reason that visitors to Saint Lucia usually arrive at Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort and travel up north via several communities, including Dennery.”
Over the years, many iguanas and boas crossing the highway that runs through the community have been injured or killed by passing vehicles. The Iyanola Crossing aims to alert motorists to that danger.
Regis is also a member of a musical band called Stage 8 which rehearses in one of the booths. The space will be used for showcasing local talent from Dennery. The popular musical genre, Dennery Segment, which has earned the community much international acclaim over the past decade, has been influencing seasoned and budding musicians, including from Dennery. Stage 8 hopes to take that experience to the next level by empowering artistes and attracting huge audiences.
“We really want to create a space for live entertainment that attracts people from all across the island to Dennery,” he said. “We usually have an end-of-month jam session where musicians from across the island come to perform. We feature zouk, soca and other genres, but have not been able to attract the young audience. So we’re hoping to mix it up a bit.”
The group hopes to either lease or get permission to use the Fond D’Or Heritage Park for creative expression since the park has a perfect amphitheater for these kinds of events.
In 1893, Dennery was described as “a most beautiful place on the seashore. If it were in Europe instead of the West Indies, it would be the most fashionable of watering places.” Regis believes the depths to Dennery’s true beauty and richness is unfathomable. Deep down in Dennery, there’s more to experience than one can ever imagine.
“Dennery has produced quite a lot of exceptional people, especially in the arts,” he said. “In fact, there’s a lot about Dennery that even Dennerians don’t know about. Even the folklore and mystical nature of the place, if packaged properly, would be something anyone would be interested in. We should be able to sell this place because we have enough stories to tell.”