A tribute to the Menorcans of St. Augustine will be staged March 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., as the Menorcan Cultural Society hosts its annual Menorcan Heritage Celebration. Setting is the Llambias House, 31 St. Francis St. Admission is free, and Rusty Hall, president of the society, invites everyone to enjoy this day which spotlights how the brave Menorcans who settled here in the late 1700s lived their lives.
Hailing from Menorca and other Mediterranean islands, the Menorcans were brought to Florida by Dr. Andrew Turnbull as indentured servants to work on his indigo plantation in New Smyrna. Suffering abuse and mistreatment for some nine years, about 600 eventually escaped to St. Augustine. Accounts have noted that between 1768 and 1777, more than 700 adults and 260 children died in the New Smyrna Colony.
The March 4 gathering pays tribute to those brave colonists through a variety of demonstrations. The special day marks the 240th anniversary of the arrival of the Menorcans in St. Augustine, and this celebration, in past years, says Carol Bradshaw, immediate past president, has attracted as many as a thousand people.
Ann Browning Masters will be signing her “Poetry of St. Augustine”; Pam Solano will be creating hats and fans out of palmetto; Herb and Shelia Greenleaf will print families coats-of-arms; and Mike Usina will share the proper way to knit and to throw mullet nets.
Further highlights of the day include Robert Redd, director of the New Smyrna Historical Society and Museum, who will provide a display; Theresa Usina will have All Things Menorcan for sale – hats, mugs, T-shirts, the Usina homemade datil pepper sauce and jellies; Eddie Lambert will sell datil pepper plants; and a number of Menorcan families, including Sandy Nesler, will display family trees and photographs.
A display of Menorcan family crests is planned, and Candy Fleming of the Textile Guild, will demonstration that art.
Also participating will be Confederate Men and Women, who have assembled a Confederate display, and adding to the festive atmosphere music will echo from the Llambias House throughout the day.
While enjoying the atmosphere of the special celebration, Hall invites everyone to enjoy a taste of both Menorcan and American cuisine.
For the adventuresome, there’s Menorcan Clam Chowder – both mild and hot; and the famous pilau – pronounced per-low. A dish made with rice and spices including the very hot and spicy datil pepper, pilau this year is being made with shrimp, chicken and sausage.
Desserts will be many and varied, including the Fromajardis, a Menorcan cheese pastry, and soft drinks and bottled water will be available.
For the less adventuresome, grilled hot dogs will be on the list of available foods.
According to a variety of Internet sources, the story of the Menorcans is found in Catholic Church documents penned by the spiritual leader of the group, Father Pedro Camps.
Family names which continue to be familiar today include Pellicer, Leondardi, Pappy, Masters or Mastre, Fazio, Andreu, Benet, Capalla, Usina, Pomar, Triay, Genovar, Hernandez, Acosta, Pacetti, Rogero, Lopez, Ponce, Oliveros and Bravo.