Blacktip Island’s annual Equinox Fest will kick off Saturday morning at Diddley’s Landing public pier. The traditional harvest festival, sponsored by the island’s Zoroastrian Council, marks the day when sunlight and darkness are of equal length.
“Astrologically, the equinox isn’t until the 23rd,” said Zoroastrian Council president Autumn Zenith, “but when you factor in the refracted pre-dawn and post-dusk light, the exact balance falls on the 19th.
“Plus, having the Fest on a Saturday lets everyone get in on the action,” Zenith said.
The event will feature food, drink and games celebrating the balance of light and darkness.
“We’ve scheduled tightrope walkers, a chess tournament, unicycle races and meditation contests,” Zenith said. “We’ll also have swings and see-saws for the kids. And of course there’ll be the rum tents serving local light and dark rums.”
The highlight of the festival, as always, will be the Harvesting of the Tourists.
“Like Oktoberfest, this festival dates back centuries,” Agriculture Ministry spokesperson Pomona Ceres said. “This is the time of year Blacktippers used to sell their harvests. With the rise of tourism, though, we learned to harvest cash directly from island visitors.”
For the Harvesting, guests cover themselves in $1 bills and run down the island’s street in full scuba gear while locals snatch money off of them.
“Participation’s 100 percent volunteer, and most tourists are delighted to participate,” Ceres said. “We provide them all with free rum before the run and free t-shirts after. The rum’s the clincher, I suspect.
“We also have a separate children’s Harvest, with some of our heavier guests shuffling along slow enough for the kids to grab some cash,” Ceres added. “It’s often the big-money event, given the size of some of our island’s scuba diving visitors and how many dollar bills it takes to cover them.”
“The Harvesting can get brutal,” island divemaster Hugh Calloway said. “Last year a guy tripped on his fins and face planted. People were on him like ducks on a June bug. They snagged his cash, his shorts, this Rolex, everything.”
The Island Psychiatric Association will offer free mental health screenings throughout the festival.
“There are more unbalanced people per capita on this island than anywhere in the world,” I.P.A. president Elysia Fromm said. “And doling out free rum is throwing petrol on a bonfire.
“It’s job security for association members, though, so we do try to celebrate balance in our own way,” Fromm said. “And we’re not about to miss out on grabbing free cash.”