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Blacktip Island Will Celebrate Spring With Fritter-Flinging Contest

Diddley’s Landing public pier will be the new home of Blacktip Island’s expanded Spring Fling conch fritter-throwing contest Saturday afternoon. (photo courtesy of Jay Valve)

 

Blacktip Island residents will welcome spring to the island this Saturday with an expanded version of the annual Spring Fling conch fritter-throwing contest at Diddley’s Landing public pier.

“Historically, the Fling was always done at the Heritage House,” event organizer Jay Valve said. “But the crowds got so big, and the flingers developed such range, we’ve moved it to Diddley’s Landing and’ll have flingers tossing their fritters out into the water.

“We’ve marked off distances with floats, and will have judges on snorkels to mark exactly where each fritter lands,” Valve said. “We have a record number of contestants this year. And there’ll be extra points awarded if any of them hit a judge.”

Locals say the event is a time-honored island tradition.

“Blacktippers have lived off conch fritters for generations,” island historian Smithson Altschul said. “But staples can become tiresome. The Spring Fling started decades ago when Dermott Bottoms’ daddy got sick of eating fritters and threw one as far as he could. Then other people at the bar, all drinking, tried to outdo him.

“Personally, I think the Fling is the only proper use for conch fritters,” Altschul said. “These days, tourists’ll eat them, but that’s about it. Or when someone’s very hung over.”

Organizers say they modified the rules this year to ensure a fairer competition.

“Years past, folks were adding rocks and fishing weights and God-knows-what to their batter to make their fritters fly farther,” Doris Blenny said. “This year we’re requiring all fritter batter to be mixed and cooked on site.

“We’re also requiring all fritters to be technically edible,” Blenny said. “We’ll have judges watching the cooking, and tasting were necessary. We also don’t want fish eating anything unhealthy.”

Some in the community opposed the event.

“This is an utter waste of food,” Angela Fisher said. “With so many people going hungry around the world, it’s not right. Why not use those ingredients to make something people want to eat?”

Organizers were quick to defend the Fling.

“This is one of our oldest island traditions,” Valve said. “We tried using faux fritters a few years back, but the turnout was pretty dismal. And this a seasonal celebration, after all, not some Astroturf dog-and-pony show.

“If anybody, anywhere, is starving, they’re welcome welcome to come here and eat all the fritters they want” he said. “Until then, Angela can keep her yap shut and we’ll keep chucking fritters.”

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Gluten-Free Communion Divides Blacktip Island Church

The Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral will conduct gluten-free Communion ceremonies after multiple gluten-related mishaps in the church.

The Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral will conduct gluten-free Communion ceremonies after multiple gluten-related mishaps in the church.

Faced with a growing number of gluten-intolerant parishioners, the Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral will conduct gluten-free Communions beginning Sunday morning.

The move breaks with Church tradition requiring the sacrament’s consecrated bread to contain enough wheat to still be bread.

“It was either this or stop administering the Eucharist,” said Our Lady of Blacktip’s Father Luther Augustine. “A quarter of our parishioners can’t even sniff gluten, and the numbers are climbing. There was a real worry we could cause suffering in all seven of our congregants.

“We thought transubstantiation would expunge the gluten from the host,” Augustine said. “But after little Sally Bottoms’ last bout of explosive diarrhea in the sacristy, well, that shook our faith to the core.”

The new gluten-free hosts are made from coconut flour and ground conch.

“We looked into cauliflower flour hosts, but they had to be imported,” Augustine said. “The coconut hosts we can source locally, and our hope is the conch bits draw a few more people into church.”

Reaction among parishioners has been positive.

“If I get sick from the bread, then the bread didn’t really become the body of Christ, did it?” parishioner Alison Diesel said. “And if that’s so, then the Communion’s not sticking anyway.”

Others were less enthusiastic.

“It’s a slippery slope, screwing with the tradition,” Dermott Bottoms said. “The new wafers taste like conch fritters and all, but the bishop said they won’t do. And some folks are allergic to shellfish, you know.”

Augustine was quick to ease his parishioners’ worries.

“Sure, the Vatican told us ‘no,’” Augustine said. “That’s why we switched from Roman Catholic to the Caribbean Orthodox Church. Anything goes with that crowd. And Blacktip’s a tiny Caribbean island. You can’t eat fish, you wouldn’t be here.”

The issue has sparked an unexpected debate among Blacktip Island’s theologians.

“The whole transubstantiation business’s pure Aristotelian pseudophilosophy,” said the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians. “We’re talking angels on the head of a pin stuff here. The fritter’s not capacious for the infinite, to paraphrase Calvin. John Calvin, not the cartoon kid.”

Augustine brushed such controversy aside.

“Spiritually, our mission’s to be as inclusive as possible,” Augustine said. “We have to reach out to everyone on the island. Future services will also be lactose free and dolphin safe.”

Most churchgoers backed the changes.

“Dermott’s the only one carping, and he’s just hacked off they might switch from wine to grape juice,” Diesel said. “God is love. And if Jesus were sitting beside me, he’d love for me not to get the squirts in church.”

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