Tourism has been on a substantial descent over the last 20 years. But one series of events, the Fête champêtre, continues to give hope to a struggling industry as tourists, local, from the Diaspora, and international, flock Haiti to witness the countryside festival.
One of the main avenues for entertainment to the 18th century elite, a Fête champêtre (a country feast or pastoral festival) was a type of garden party much loved at court. With pretensions to simplicity, the Fête champêtre was patronized by the well dressed, entertained by musicians hidden in the trees, as they enjoyed the beauty of landscaped park.
The Haitian town of Marmelade, known as Mamlad in Creole, is best known as the boyhood home of Rene Preval, past president of Haiti, who succeeded the troubled and turbulent presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. During the era when the island of Haiti (known as Hispaniola then) was ruled by nobility, Marmelade was recognized as a duchy.
Situated high in the Marmelade mountain range between Cap Haïtien and Saint Marc, it overlooks the jewel-toned, aquamarine Atlantic Ocean, which lies 17 miles northward. It is also bounded by the equally breath-taking Caribbean Sea on the westward side.
Marmelade, referred to as Marmeiade or Marra Town by its 7,000 local residents, is a Christian community that is predominately Catholic. They attend baptisms, holy communions, weddings, funerals, and Sunday masses at St. Martha Catholic Church, 18 miles from Cap Haïtien International Airport.
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