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Representatives of the Island of Menorca (from left to right) Commissioner Mateu Martínez Martínez, Commissioner Juan Manuel Lafuente Mirr,, and Vice President Damià Borrás Borrás pose with Ambassador Francisco Javier Vallaure de Acha, Consul General from the Spanish Consulate in Miami in from of the statute of Father Pedro Camps at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. Camps was the priest who assisted the Menorcans on their trek to St. Augustine in 1777.

Festival Brings Guests from Menorca

The 485th birthday of St. Augustine’s founder Pedro Menendez de Aviles, was celebrated February 27-29 and was an occasion that brought a special delegation from Menorca for a special visit.

Menorca is one of the three islands that comprise the Balearic Islands, one of Spain’s 19 autonomous communities, similar to states in the USA. The first Menorcans arrived in St. Augustine in 1777, when the city was already over 200 years old, as survivors of the failed New Smyrna colony 75 miles to the south.

The cultural contribution of Minorcans to St. Augustine’s rich history is vast and was the center of attention during the Menendez Birthday Festival this year with participation by Grup Folkloric es Rebost and by the visit of three governmental officials from the island.

Grup Folkloric es Rebost, a folk dance troupe performing the traditional dances of the island, is comprised of 28 dancers whose ages range from young teens to middle age. The group’s participation in this year’s festival was made possible by grants from the State of Florida Department State Division of Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, and the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council.

In addition to Grup Folkloric es Rebost, the City of St. Augustine proudly welcomed the Vice President and two Commissioners of the Menorcan Island Council as official representatives of the government. Although the visit was brief, each of the officials expressed their delight at the high esteem in which Menorcan culture is held by the City and how proud the community is of its historical ties to the island.

Damià Borrás Borrás, Vice President of the Island Council, and Mateu Martínez Martínez and Juan Manuel Lafuente Mirr, both Commissioners, participated in all of the festival’s events including the Noche de Gala, the grand ball, at which they were honored guests.

The Menendez Festival has become a traditional time for the City to renew its official and cultural ties with its two Spanish sister cities. Last year the Mayor of Aviles, Spain visited and participated in the festival. Relationships with both of these communities, Aviles and Menorca, have been enriched by these annual visits.

Dignitaries gather in the garden of the Ximenez-Fatio House for the start of the Menendez Festival to honor sponsors of the event. From left to right are Representative John Mica, member of Congress representing Florida’s Seventh Congressional District; St. Augustine City Commissioners Errol Jones, Bill Lennon and Don Crichlow; Representatives of the Island of Menorca Juan Manuel Lafuente Mirr, Mateu Martínez Martínez and Damià Borrás Borrás; Consul General from the Spanish Consulate in Miami Javier Vallaure; and George Gardner, Mayor of St. Augustine.


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