The denbigh showground

ABSTRACT

The Denbigh Showground is the venue of the annual Agricultural and Industrial Show which showcases the efforts of farmers in Jamaica. In 2000, an exploratory study conducted by the researcher showed that there is a need to develop the showground, with majority respondents (57%) supporting the development of a Fun and Amusement Park. Another unpublished study conducted in 2005 revealed that the showground is ideally suited for eco-tourism. This study further assessed the viable options for the Showground and revealed that it could best be used as a multi-purpose agricultural facility with linkages to the parish's cultural legacy and places of interest.

INTRODUCTION

The principal aim of this study is to critically assess the viable options for the Denbigh Showground and to determine its potential for achieving socio-economic development for the parish of Clarendon.

Background to the Problem

Clarendon is the third largest parish in Jamaica. The population in the parish has increased from 500 persons in 1662 to 211,447 in 1991 and 237,025 in 2001, this being the last population count (Statistical Institute of Jamaica / STATIN, 2001).

Its main centres of employment are the two sugar estates, Monymusk and New Yarmouth. There is also the Jamalco Bauxite Company which operates a mine and a processing plant. Fishing on the southern coasts and farming on the hills are other forms of gainful employment. Gowie (1997) pointed out that although the parish continues to develop in the areas of trade, more is needed for investment in the areas of service and manufacturing.

The capital of the parish, May Pen, is perceived to be one of the fastest growing commercial centres in Jamaica. It, however, appears limited in meaningful skills training and wider employment opportunities as the current opportunities on the job market are centred on the sale and distribution of commodities such as food, clothing, furniture, hardware and building supplies. This low employment level in terms of numbers and job type could challenge the socio-economic development of the parish.

Objectives of the Study

The researcher hopes that this study will provide answers to and supporting evidence to the following research objectives:

  • To identify the cultural legacy of Clarendon; its capital, May Pen; and the Denbigh Showground;
  • To determine the potential uses of the Denbigh Showground that can contribute to its socio-economic viability;
  • To evaluate the community's attitude towards the development of the showground.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Introduction

In order to fully explore the vast potential of the Denbigh Showground and its contribution to the socio-economic development of the parish of Clarendon, various relevant resource material was reviewed to obtain information regarding the history and development of the parish of Clarendon, May Pen and the showground itself, so as to highlight their legacies; identify the socio-economic viability of the showground; and explore the community's attitude towards the showground's development.

History and Development of Clarendon

Clarendon occupies a central position in Jamaica. It acquired its present geographic location after the island of Jamaica was reduced from twenty two to fourteen parishes by an Act in 1814. It is divided, for electoral purposes into six constituents and is bordered by St. Ann on the north, Manchester on the west, St. Catherine on the east and the Caribbean Sea on the south (STATIN, 2000).

This parish has an interesting history having been inhabited by a variety of ethnic groups. The Tainos lived on the Portland Ridge and in the Braziletto Mountain. There were also Taino villages both on the banks of the Rio Minho and the Milk River. The Spaniards who also settled in the parish inhabited it with cattle and horses. The first set of Maroons from the parish lived in Suttons in the northern part where the Sutton Plantation slave rebellion occurred in 1690 (Senior, 2003).

In 1665 an Englishman by the name of Thomas Lynch came to this parish along with Penn and Venables (who took Jamaica from the Spaniards) and named it in honour of an English Chancellor, Lord Clarendon. Vere, which is located in the south, was named after the daughter of Sir Edward Herber, Attorney General to Charles 1 of England. The lady, Vere, was also the first wife of Sir Thomas Lynch (Clarendon Parish Library, 2000).

History and Development of May Pen

May Pen was once a part of a property owned by a Reverent William May, former Rector of Kingston Parish Church for thirty-two years. This property had only two inns on a bank of the Rio Minho, which accommodated travelers passing through from the west of the island to Old Harbour which was then the shipping port. The inns became very necessary because there was no bridge over the river to allow passage when it was in spate (Clarendon Parish Library, 2000).

There were many obstacles to the development of May Pen in the early 19th century. Transportation was poor and the Rio Minho posed a threat since there was no bridge to facilitate safe crossing. There was also a shortage of labour for the nearby sugar plantations in Vere and therefore, in 1845, East Indians were imported in order to provide an adequate and dependable labour force. The current infirmary, located in the Denbigh area, was built as a hospital for these East Indians (Clarendon Parish Library, 2000).

During the second half of the 19th century, May Pen's development was affected by island wide events such as the change in the constitution and local administration. Many estates also ceased operation and there was an increase in the number of absentee owners.

In 1867 a Law was passed, which stated that:

"The Parishes of Clarendon and Vere be constituted as one parish under the name Clarendon and the town of May Pen shall be the chief town thereof". (Clarendon Parish Library, 2000).

Another hallmark in May Pen's history is the bridge which was constructed between 1870 and 1874 at a cost of approximately seventeen thousand pounds. It was described as the 'finest bridge in the world'. On October 1, 1885, the first meeting of the Parochial Board of Clarendon was convened to discuss the construction of roads and water supply among other things. In 1886, the road over the bridge was claimed by the government and became a public main road instead of a parish road.

In 1879, the government extended the railway line, which was already established from Kingston through the parish, to Porus. The water supply was also improved by the use of borehole wells near the Rio Minho Basin.

These developments along with the establishment of the Vernamfield base in 1940 by the Americans marked the rapid growth of the town. In 1938, May Pen became the capital of Clarendon and since then, it has been described as one of the fastest growing towns in Jamaica. In 1962, May Pen was granted Mayoral Status. It currently comprises a number of churches, a courthouse, tax collectorate office, public works department, numerous shopping facilities and commercial banks. It is in fact the hub of commercial, industrial, civic and government activities for the parish of Clarendon (Clarendon Parish Library, 2000). The most current census showed May Pen to have a population count of 57, 334 (STATIN, 2001).

The Denbigh Agricultural Showground

The district of Denbigh is located on the periphery of May Pen. In the 1780s, Denbigh was a prosperous sugar estate but it was eventually replaced by logwood, tobacco and indigo and was frequently described as being 'compact and well cultivated'.

During the 20th century, Custos, the Honorable W. George Muirhead, became the owner of this vast area of land. A part of the property was then sold to a businessman, Mr. R.O. Terrier who became a big land owner and an outstanding citizen of May Pen and who in turn resold some of it as residential lots (Clarendon Parish Library, 2000). Eighteen acres of the land were donated to the government by Custos Muirhead, for the building of the May Pen Hospital, which was not built until 1974 (Southern Regional Health Authority) and the Showground which is situated on twenty-nine hectares (Jamaica Agricultural Society, JAS, 2008).

The JAS is the current administrator of this property which is the venue for the annual Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show, that started in 1953 (JAS, 2008). The show is a major activity during the anniversary celebrations of Jamaica's Independence. This hallmark event is known to contribute to the socio-economic development of the community and the parish of Clarendon (Gowie, 1997).

Each year, farmers from all fourteen parishes mount displays, parade live stocks and demonstrate their skills among other activities, with the aim of informing, educating and entertaining the audience and visitors to the show (Gowie, 1997).

The Denbigh property consists of physical structures which were described as being built on the land over time in an unplanned fashion (Gowie, 1997). These structures include the main pavilion, the parade circle, parish pavilions, food arcades, livestock holding areas, fishponds and empty areas for temporary booths, parking and recreation activities. There are also offices of the JAS, Ministry of Agriculture and the National Irrigation Authority. The private sector is also represented on the showground with buildings permanently constructed. These companies include Grace Kennedy and Nestle Jamaica Limited (Maragh, 2000).

The showground also comprises a 4H Club Training Centre, a Rural Agriculture Development Agency (RADA) Office, the School of Hope and a vocational training school for the Roving Care Givers. The Jamaica Railway Service (JRS) lines also run parallel to the facility (Maragh, 2000).

Socio-Economic Viability of the Denbigh Showground

Maragh (2000) in an unpublished study pertaining to the sustainable development of the Denbigh Showground, revealed that all the respondents in her study thought that there was a need to further develop the facility for socio-economic sustainability. They provided very positive reasons for such development. Some of these reasons were that the property is underutilized (55 %); it could positively contribute to community development (20%) and that the facility needs to be renovated to make it attractive and economically viable (24%).

In order to further assess the economic viability of the property, the possible investment opportunities for the agricultural and industrial show were explored along with other viable property development options.

Investment Opportunities for the Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show

The following investment opportunities were identified:

The Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME)

The JAS intends to synergize with Caribbean and international players in agriculture and related areas such as agro-processing and agro-services. This it hopes to achieve by promoting investment opportunities especially since the CSME is expected to facilitate economic growth and development through agriculture (Grant, 2005).

Digicel Sponsorship

The cellular phone company, Digicel, has signed a $10 million agreement with the JAS to sponsor the staging of the show for three years. The society will be given $3.3M in both 2006 and 2007 and $3.4M in 2008.

Under the theme "Expect More, Get More", the sponsorship is geared towards improving the show and its exhibits (Grant, 2005).

Re-investment of Profits

JAS intends to invest the surplus from the annual Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Shows in order to develop the site into an Agricultural Theme Park which is slated to become the 'Agricultural Mecca' of the Caribbean (Grant, 2005).

Other Potential Uses of the Denbigh Showground

The following were cited as other potential uses of the Denbigh Showground:

As An Attraction

According to Swarbrooke (2003), popular attractions tend to grow into destinations and services such as hotels, restaurants and other services that will meet the needs of visitors. He also noted that many of the world's largest and most successful destinations were developed from one major attraction.

Attractions are economically viable to a destination in terms of providing revenue to government in the form of taxes, providing employment, both direct and indirect, providing foreign exchange and facilitating a multiplier effect within the community and larger society. Two major shortcomings, however, are that individuals are usually low paid and the project may cost more money to create than the amount of jobs it can produce. (Swarbrooke, 2003).

The following attractions were proposed for the Denbigh Showground:

Fun and Amusement Park

In her study, Maragh (2000) noted that 57 percent of the respondents pointed to the facility's potential use as a Fun and Amusement Park. This proposal therefore suggests that it can be used as an attraction and could have the potential for further development.

Eco -tourism Site

An unpublished study conducted by Maragh (2005), at the Glenmuir High School, aimed to determine whether the natural and physical resources at the Denbigh Showground could be developed for eco-tourism. The findings revealed that the property has a vast acreage of land with many natural and physical resources that do not exist elsewhere and therefore could be positioned as an eco-tourism site.

In the same study however, the proprietor of the then Denbigh Zoo Limited which was operating on the property, reported that the Zoo is not being supported by the citizens in and around May Pen and this he feared, may be a representation of their reaction to the development of an eco-tourism attraction of the Denbigh Showground.

If the Denbigh property were to be developed as an ecotourism site, it would have the advantage of being readily accessible from all parishes in Jamaica due to the centrality of its location. The development of the eastbound leg of Highway 2000 makes it even more accessible for those persons travelling from the southeastern parts of the Island. With the proposed completion of highway 2000 around Jamaica, getting to this location will be much faster because of reduced travelling time and improved roadway (Maragh, 2005).

Maragh (2005) also mentioned in her analysis that local visitors could visit as individuals or as groups from schools, churches, associations and societies. It was also noted that the schools' curriculum at all levels of the education system in Jamaica, are requiring that students be aware of the importance of conserving the natural environment and preserving the physical facilities. She also proposed that the Denbigh's Eco-tourism Attraction incorporate the '3R's' in its concept, that is to 'Reduce, Reuse and Recycle'.

Maragh (2005) noted that this eco-tourism site could be marketed to potential visitors through the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), and via linkages with hotels and tour companies. Eco-tourism at Denbigh could also be one of the major activities for those hotels that are in close proximity, for example, Hotel Versalles and the Sandals Whitehouse property. This tour could be linked to the Milk River Bath and it could also become a part of the proposed Clarendon Express Tour which is being developed by Jamalco, as a means of featuring the parish of Clarendon as a tourism product and contributing to the development of South Coast Tourism. This ecotourism attraction could also be used to lure cruise ship passengers from their ports of disembarkation to the southern part of the island. (Maragh, 2005).

National Agricultural Theme Park

At the opening ceremony of the 54th staging of the Denbigh Show in August 2006, the President of JAS reported that the showground is to be upgraded at a cost of $1billion. This five-year improvement project would include the construction of permanent structures for the Wallenfield and Mavis Bank Coffee Companies, the All Island Beef Farmers Association and the Coconut Industry Board. There will also be a 99 years lease of a part of the property to the Jamaica 4H Clubs to facilitate the development of a training centre which will accommodate 250 young persons instead of the current 50. All of this development is envisioned to be a part of a National Agricultural Theme Park which will become the agricultural mecca for staging agricultural products (Grant, 2006).

Hospitality Services

Grant (2007) stated that the JAS has a $1billion plan to develop the Denbigh property, of which $200 million will be spent on the construction of a sixty (60) room hotel which will be built on one acre of the land. This hotel will also have meeting facilities which will be marketed to the agricultural sector and other businesses within central Jamaica. This, he contended, will help to address the issue of accommodation especially during the annual Denbigh Show. Not only will this venture benefit from the anticipated commercial development in the parish, including the Vernamfield aerodrome, but it is also expected to ease the shortage of rooms in the parish.

A ground-breaking ceremony for this building was held with the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller, on the final day of the 2007 Denbigh Show and this building is expected to be completed in thirty-six months (Myers, 2007).

In 2008 the same level of enthusiasm about the Denbigh Hotel was expressed by the President of the JAS while addressing the farmers at the 113th Annual General Meeting. It was proposed that the Denbigh property be used all year round in order to deter the action of thieves which have been preying on the property for the past four to five years especially since the emergence of the scrap metal business. This loss has amounted to over $20 million. It is believed that the hotel's meeting facilities, which would be rented to host seminars, conferences, church services and weddings, and the commercial activity at the shops will y upgrade the profile of this historic business venue and encourage the citizens to preserve the facility. The projected cost of this development excluding the hotel is expected to be in the region of $200 million (Grant, 2008).

Rural Tourism / Community - Based Tourism

The parish of Clarendon is endowed with a variety of environmental and historical sites; places of interest; buildings; and monuments that have both rural and community - based tourism features that are potential economic linkages to the Denbigh Showground, if developed as facilities for niche tourism.

However, Getz and Page (1997) pointed out that the potential of rural tourism depends highly on the willingness of a host community to be creative and innovative and in an effort to link rural tourism and community-based tourism, they noted that the use of the term "community" in tourism is imperative since the appreciation for community tourism is on the increase.

In defining Community-based Tourism, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute / CANARI (1999) noted that it is where communities are players in the tourism industry and exercise control through their own involvement.

Also, Needham (2008), in addressing the audience at the opening of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) 1st International Community Tourism Retreat, stated that:

"Community-Based Tourism is the perfect complement to the more formal tourism industry in Jamaica offering our visitors a healthy serving of Jamaican charm, culture and heritage that will see them returning to our shores again and again."

At the same retreat Ford-Warner (2008) pointed out that community tourism is not only an instrument for building relationships between the hosts and visitors, but is also a means of facilitating the empowerment of a community.

Some of the environmental and cultural/heritage sites in Clarendon were noted by (Senior, 2003) as follows:

  • Milk River Bath, which is famous for the therapeutic value of its waters. It is said to be one of the most radioactive in the world. The water flows from crevices in the hill, into the small bathhouses built beside it.
  • Halse Hall Great House being one of Jamaica's Heritage Sites is now owned by Jamalco Bauxite Company. In 1655, this 2,000-acre property on which it is built became the owner of an English officer, Major Thomas Halse, after whom it is named.
  • Portland Point Lighthouse is situated on the summit of Portland Ridge. The tower boasts an open framed structure of about 40 m high. The beacon light revolves and gives off two flashes, in quick succession, every 15 seconds.
  • Alley Church which is the third oldest Anglican Church in Jamaica was built with brick and stone quoins (dressed corner stones) in 1671, shortly after the English conquest of Jamaica. The St. Peter's Church, as it is known, has the oldest organ (1847) in the Commonwealth Caribbean and a bell weighing three quarters of a ton, cast by the same group of moulders who made 'Big Ben' which adorns the English Westminster buildings.

Other special features of the parish were alluded to by Maragh (2000) in her study. These include the:

  • Bull Head Mountain which is 1,097.3 meters high is the highest elevation in the parish. It is regarded as the geographic center of the island. This mountain is easy to climb and it provides a panoramic view of the south coast. In fact, it was used as a conspicuous landmark to vessels approaching the south.
  • Monymusk Sugar Factory is located on the Vere plain. It was originally owned by the Grant family. Close to Monymusk are two lookout towers. One is at Amity Hall and houses a library, while the other is at Bog, and boasts a Great House.
  • Morgan's Pass is located near Chapelton in Central Clarendon and was once owned by Sir Henry Morgan, the famous buccaneer.
  • God's Well is a deep sinkhole, near Milk River, and which is said to be bottomless. Legend has it that the Arawaks used this natural reservoir as a sacred place to offer sacrifices to their gods. The water of God's Well is believed to be the same, which passes through the rocks and feeds Milk River. No leaves are said to fall in this tranquil water.
  • Vernamfield Airbase is located near Milk River and was built during World War II. It is now used as a venue for car racing.
  • Kemps Hill Lookout was once a lookout point that provided a view of Carlyse Bay, which was once a busy port. Some old cannons are still to be seen on this hill.
  • Jackson's Bay which is a white sandy beach located near to the Portland Ridge. Caves with Arawak remains were found here.
  • Farquhar's Beach, a small fishing village one mile from Milk River, has much potential for the development for fishing, bathing and water sports.
  • Rocky Point is a large fishing village west of Portland Point.
  • David's Face, which can be seen in Woodhall in northern Clarendon, is an expertly sculptured face of a man in a rock formation. Legend states that it is the face of Tom Peters to whom the land had belonged and who having failed to complete a road to his property, carved his own face in the rock and unfortunately died mysteriously soon thereafter.

The Community's Attitude towards Development

Botes and Rensburg (2000) pointed to the importance of community participation in development projects which they believed often assumes the notion of "common purpose and common good." All participants in the development project must acknowledge the degree of citizen empowerment in a working relationship. This is important since any decisions taken, impact directly on the lives of those living in any community. For example, Thailand practices the concept of rural tourism, which focused on satisfying the basic needs of the people to include education, health and sufficient income for living and social equality. This rural tourism development has encompassed both economic growth and human development. It has created the capacity for people to participate in the community development process (Botes and Rensburg, 2000).

In her study, Maragh (2000) reported that 97 percent of the respondents believed that the community should play an integral role in the development of the Showground. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of these respondents thought that the facility should be developed for the community and visitors alike. The remaining thirty one percent wanted it to be used by the local community alone. Botes and Rensburg (2000) actually stated that community members can be against development especially if it is not communicated to them and planned to improve their standards of living. Hall and Law, (1998) also noted that there could be various obstacles to the utilization of the concept of community participation and this may have detrimental effects in the community. This includes social and power struggles among the stakeholders in the development planning process. Also, involving people can be expensive and this can paralyze decision-making, holding development investments hostage and loss of productivity. There remains however, some level of optimism and support for community participation in development. Botes & Rensburg (2000) postulated that all parties must work together to be productive as well as reactive.

In terms of employment, Laws (1991) alluded that the residents may be against the employment of persons who are not from the immediate community. The previous study on the Denbigh Showground conducted by Maragh (2000) pointed out that 89 percent of the respondents declared the need for more trained and competent persons within the parish, who will be able to offer quality service, solve problems, train others and protect the interests of investors, employees, suppliers and visitors alike, thereby making the facility one of the best in Jamaica. The other 11 percent reported that there was no such need, since there are already many persons in the parish of Clarendon, who are trained but who remain unemployed or are employed in other areas and therefore could be utilized in such a development.

METHODOLOGY

This research is an exploratory study aimed at assessing the socio-economic viability of the Denbigh Showground in the parish of Clarendon, Jamaica. It takes the form of a case study which includes the assessment of two previous studies conducted on that location, that is, the Potential of the Denbigh Agricultural Showground in Contributing to the Socio-economic Sustainable Development of Clarendon by Maragh (2000) and the Potential of the Denbigh Showground for Eco-tourism (Maragh, 2005).

In order to ascertain primary data, interviews were conducted with ten key stakeholders within the parish using a structured questionnaire with both open and closed ended questions.

FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION

Analysis of Findings

All the respondents acknowledged that the Denbigh Showground has the potential for socio-economic viability and therefore should be able to assist in the development of the parish of Clarendon. They thought the property would be better able to do so if developed for other uses than the annual Agricultural and Industrial Show. Of this amount 70 percent stated that the land is being wasted and it should be used all year round; 20 percent believed it should be used for entertainment purposes for young people in the parish and the remaining 10 percent stated that some of the land space should remain untouched.

A number of development options for the property were given including a section to specify any other development the respondent would like to take place. Fifty percent (50%) proposed a combination of the offerings cited. Of this amount 30 percent believed it should be agriculture related. They believed a multi-purpose facility would be ideal as there is enough space to accommodate such development. Twenty percent (20%) suggested an Education and Training Campus which should be agriculture related and 10 percent noted Fun and Amusement Park, Environmental Park and a Stadium respectively. An overall analysis of the combinations suggested (50%), revealed that the use of the property for an Education and Training Campus was mostly mentioned (40%).

When asked about their awareness of the historical legacy of Clarendon, only 40 percent of the respondents were cognizant of at least five of them. When told what these were, 80 percent believed they could provide economic linkages to the Denbigh Showground, what ever the development; the other 20% thought that there is no appreciation for culture and heritage in today's society. Of the 80 percent, 10 percent further noted that the Denbigh Show itself has become monotonous over the years and therefore it could be partnered with tour operators to take the visitors to some of these places, while another 10 percent proposed that the location be used all year round as a museum, ticket outlet and transportation hub to take visitors to these areas.

With regards to the best developer for the property, 40 percent of the respondents noted that foreign investors have the capital, expertise and quality specifications for such development; 30 percent proposed that it's best to have a partnership arrangement in leading the development of this property, whichever development will be undertaken. Twenty percent (20%) suggested the private sector whether local or foreign, since they have the resources to do so and 10 percent stated that the JAS since it is the current administrator of the property. Of the proposed partnerships, 10 percent respectively indicated the JAS and government as they thought it would be more acceptable by the community; the JAS and local investors so that the JAS will remain a part of the administration of the property and the community and any other prospective investor to keep the community involved.

All the respondents believed that the residents would respond to this development in a favourable way as it would provide them with employment (20%); facilitate community involvement (20%); offer a new and exciting form of entertainment/ recreation for young people (20%) ; present investment opportunities (10%) ; if it does not destroy the natural environment (10%); the Education and Training Campus will provide education for the populace (10%) and the remaining 10% gave no response.

Eighty percent (80%) of the respondents noted that the community should play an integral role in the development of the showground as it ought to be a community effort since it is in their locale (50%); they will have easier access to jobs (20%) and they will be better able to make suggestions towards the development (10%). The remaining 20 percent thought that the surrounding communities are too politicized and this would cause frequent disruption to the development (10%), also, the residents have poor work ethics which would affect the time to complete the job (10%). In terms of the level of community involvement, 20 percent of the respondents respectively believed that they could be involved in construction and maintenance; be members of the planning committee or be involved at all levels. The remaining 40 percent did not respond to this question.

Regarding the benefit to be derived from the development of the showground, 60 percent of the respondents wished to gain either as an investor (30%) or a supplier (30%) for the sole reason that it has economic potential to be a profitable operation. The remaining 40% wished to be employed to the facility as they are currently unemployed (20%) or they simply want to enjoy the offerings of the facility (20%)

From a marketing perspective, it is believed that both local and foreign visitors should be targeted (50%), mainly because it is important to widen the market (30%). Another 30 percent respondents suggested that only local visitors are to be targeted as it will provide a place for them to go (20%); the remaining 20 percent thought the location is inaccessible to foreign visitors.

In terms of the availability of trained and competent persons in the parish, 70 percent believed that there is a need due to inadequate training facilities (40%) and migration (30%). The other 30 percent believed that the need would depend on the type of facility and positions (20%) and that there are qualified but jobless persons in the parish (10%).

Thirty percent (30%) of the respondents believed that any development of the site will further enhance the environment, 10% noted that an Environmental Impact Assessment should be conducted since it is believed that the area could be a swamp, 10% declared that the facility can be used as is and the remaining 50% noted that any form of infrastructural development may result in deforestation (40%) and overcrowding of the site may result in trampling of the vegetation (10%).

Discussion

The main use of the Denbigh Showground is to display the efforts of farmers in Jamaica and to be a center for agricultural activities. The findings of this study and those of Maragh (2000) and Maragh (2005) showed that this vast acreage of land located on the south coast of Jamaica can be more resourceful in terms of it being used all year round. This in turn will provide socio-economic benefits such as employment.

The majority of respondents perceived that if the Denbigh Showground is used as a multi-purpose facility, it can facilitate socio-economic development for the parish and therefore, national sustainable development.

In comparison to the two previous studies, only 10 percent of the respondents proposed Fun and Amusement Park which is much less than the findings by Maragh (2000) that showed 57 percent and another 10 percent suggested Environmental Park for Eco-tourism as opposed to 70% cited by Maragh (2005).

As a multi-purpose facility, this rural / community-based development could incorporate many aspects of the other options given in the survey, due to its vast acreage of 29 hectares. It could also integrate a theme which would allow it to be agriculture oriented, as posited by the respondents. It could therefore be envisioned as a Multi-purpose Agricultural Facility or an Agricultural Theme Park as was proposed by Grant (2006). This facility could include an Education and Training Campus which is limited in this part of the parish and which would offer training in the area of agriculture since there is an intention for the JAS to align with the CSME. This would also further help to improve the agriculture industry.

An Agricultural Market, for the farmers in the parish and around Jamaica to display and sell their produce in the existing Parish Pavilions could be amalgamated with the training institution. This is a possible means of promoting agricultural products to foreign visitors who upon returning home may create a demand for these products, which will ultimately increase exports. In addition, ethnic foods can be showcased and sold to visitors. The motto "Out of Many One People" could be used as the theme for this area to include dishes from the different ethnic groups such as the Tainos, Spanish, English, Africans Indians and Chinese. Companies with existing buildings can do likewise. Grace Kennedy for example, could use its pavilion as a sampling area for its product thereby sensitizing the visitors to them and promoting sale.

A Research Centre could also be incorporated into the plan. Through direct application and demonstration, information can be given to the visitors regarding production processes in the areas of farming and agro-processes. Product and technology improvement could be the focus, since this is a global desire, for example bi-products could be developed from the banana and sugar cane to be used as food, fuel or fertilizer thereby promoting sustainability. The concepts of the ' 3Rs' can also be a focus and this laboratory can be used as a resource center, providing technical knowledge and assistance to students, farmers and entrepreneurs. The Scientific Research Council already has an established building and therefore they could be proactive in this endeavour along with the tertiary institutions in Jamaica.

Socio-economic viability can also be achieved through the use of one section of the property as an Environmental Park where an environmentally friendly theme could be conceptualized and implemented into the planning, development and operation. There could be a zoo, apiary and fishpond and the leaves of the plants could be used to make compost, thereby providing manure for the rest of the facility. Any additional physical structure should be built from environmentally friendly products. They should also be constructed among the existing trees so as to prevent deforestation and encourage preservation. This could include accommodation facilities for visitors who wish to stay over and could be the alternative to the sixty room hotel proposed by Grant (2007).

A museum with information and artifacts regarding indigenous food, craft and cultural items could be included in the whole experience provided to the visitors. Organized tours to the heritage sites in the parish could increase integration of local communities in tourism development. A folk theatre could also be established to facilitate the performances of cultural items.

In terms of the community's involvement in such development, all of the respondents are keen on playing a participative role which is imperative if sustainability is to be achieved as cited in the Literature Review by Botes and Rensburg (2000). There however, can be various difficulties with community participation in terms of it having detrimental effects on this project such as the politicization of the development expressed by some of the respondents. Addressing these issues may be challenging since any decision made will affect both the residents and the visitors. Any method of resolutions to address these challenges needs to be in consultation with the local communities. There must be continuous communication of all information among all the relevant parties (the government, investors, planners and community members). It is only through this type of extended communication that authorities and community members can explore and address the many hidden issues, which may have direct or indirect impact on the development.

The majority of the respondents also pointed out that the facility could be marketed to both local and foreign visitors so as to earn more revenue. The local groups and the accommodation sector on the south coast as alluded to by Maragh (2000) could be targeted. Regional and international visitors would provide the much needed foreign currency. This rationale is valid because the earnings from visitors can actually permeate directly or indirectly through the communities in the parish where the farmers, vendors, financial institutions and other businesses can benefit. This multiplier effect will lead to socio-economic development, and if planned and remains beneficial to the communities, it can be sustainable. The survey also revealed that the majority of respondents would preferably be investors and suppliers to the venture, as they envisage this development to be profitable. This also will facilitate the multiplier effect.

One major area of this project would be the training and development of the human resources in the locale. Employees' competence can determine the success of this operation and therefore the necessary skill and knowledge is needed for its effective operation as a multi-purpose agricultural facility. which will be able to offer quality service, solve problems, provide relevant information, train and coach other employees and protect the interests of investors, employees, suppliers and visitors alike, thereby promoting socio-economic sustainability for May Pen, Clarendon and Jamaica simultaneously.

THE WAY FORWARD

In addition to the recommendations provided in the discussion, it is important that a Strategic Management and Marketing Plan be developed by the JAS, who is the current administrator for the property, so as to guide the process of developing the Denbigh Showground. This plan should assess all the pertinent variables such as community participation, environmental issues, socio-cultural factors, potential market among others.

CONCLUSION

Utilising the Denbigh Show Ground as a multi-purpose agricultural facility or as an Agricultural Theme Park which will comprise an Educational and Training Institution, Farmers' Market, Research Centre and an Environmental / Eco-tourism Park with environmentally-friendly accommodation, could be an international leading attraction concept, which can contribute to the socio-economic development of the parish of Clarendon. It could also be linked with the cultural legacy and places of interest in the parish.

Not only will this venture guarantee financial returns for the parish but also for the tourism industry and the national economy. This facility has the potential to provide the means by which infrastructural facilities and the other attractions in the parish, as cited in the Literature Review, can be improved to provide economic linkages and facilitate and enhance this venture.

REFERENCES

  • Botes, L. and Rensburg, D. (January 2000), "Community Participation in Development", Community Development Journal, An International Forum. Vol 35. No.2. Oxford University Press.
  • Caribbean Natural Resources Institute / CANARI (1999), Community-Based Tourism in the Caribbean Workshop Report, February 1999, St. Lucia
  • Clarendon Parish Library (2000), Profile of Clarendon, May Pen, Clarendon
  • Ford-Warner, K. (2008), TPDCO's Overview of the 1st International Community Tourism Retreat for the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (June 2008), Kingston, Jamaica.
  • Getz, D. and Page, J. (1997), The Business of Rural Tourism, International Perspective, International Thompson Business Press, London.
  • Gowie, E. (1997), The Denbigh Development Programme for Agro Science and Technology, Education and Exposition, Educational Technologies Inc.
  • Grant N. (2005), Addressing the Signing of $10Million Three Year Sponsorship Agreement between Digicel and the JAS, JAS (www. jas.org)
  • Grant N. (2006), $1 Billion Upgrade for Denbigh Showground, JIS (August 2006)
  • Grant N. (2007), $200M Denbigh Hotel...JAS to Develop Property under $1B Plan, Jamaica Gleaner (August 5, 2007)
  • Grant N. (2008), Thieves Prey On Denbigh Showground, Jamaica Observer, (July 14, 2008)
  • Jamaica Agricultural Society / JAS (2008), Denbigh Agricultural Show (www.jas.org.jm)
  • Laws, E. (1991), Tourism Marketing...... Service and Quality Management Perspectives, Stanley Thorns, England
  • Maragh G. (2000), The Denbigh Showground...An Assessment of its Potential For Socio-Economic Development (An Unpublished Research Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the MSc. Degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica).
  • Maragh K. (2005), Can the Natural and Physical Resources at the Denbigh Show Grounds can be Developed for Eco-tourism (An Unpublished Research which is a School Based Assessment for CSEC Geography, Glenmuir High School, May Pen, Clarendon).
  • Myers (2007), $200M Denbigh Hotel...JAS to Develop Property under $1B Plan, Jamaica Gleaner (August 5, 2007)
  • Needham (2008) Opening Message for the IIPT Conference, (June 2008), Kingston, Jamaica
  • Senior, O. (2003), Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage, Pre-press Book Art Inc., Toronto, Canada
  • Southern Regional Health Authority (2008), Facts on May Pen Hospital, (www.srha.gov.jm/May Pen)
  • Statistical Institute of Jamaica / STATIN, (2000)
  • Statistical Institute of Jamaica / STATIN, (2001)
  • Swarbrooke J. (2003), The Development and Management of Visitor Attractions, Butterworth - Heinemann, Burlington MA

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