Events and History

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Events on Cat Island

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Cat Island Rake & Scrape Festival - First Weekend in June
The Annual Cat Island Rake & Scrape Festival, is the signature event for Cat Island. This event takes place at the Arthurs Town airport site and features a Gospel concert, Battle of the Rake & Scrape Bands, live entertainment with local Bahamian artists, quadrille dancing, a children's corner with games and a fishermen and farmers' market. Lots of local food and drinks on sale. Part proceeds from the festival are used to provide a scholarship to a deserving local high school graduate from Cat Island to attend the College of The Bahamas.

Cat Island Annual Regatta - First weekend in August
The Cat Island Annual Regatta will take place at the Regatta Site in New Bight.  Local residents and regatta lovers from throughout the islands of The Bahamas reunite to celebrate sloop racing, live entertainment, cultural activities, games, native food and drinks.  Regatta coincides with Cat Island Thanksgiving, when families come home to Cat Island.  There are family reunion parties in every settlement the entire weekend.    Food available year around at Regatta site.

History

Like other out islands scattered throughout the Bahamas, Cat Island is believed to have been inhabited as early as the 9th century AD by tribes referred to by many names including the “Arawaks,” “Lucayans,” and the self-imposed “Lukku-cairi.”  The island still features some of the ancient structures believed to have served as primitive shelters for these peaceful indigenous people. In fact, much of the history of Cat Island can be told through the largely-untouched, ancient and colonial remnants of times past.  Cat Island is known for its rich, colorful history. 

Of the many stories behind the name, the one most favoured by locals involves the pirate Arthur Catt, a contemporary of the notorious Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach, who returned so frequently to hide his plundered treasure on the island, that the name 'Catt's island' stuck.

Cat Island offers many unique attractions that will take you back in time.  It is said that pirates once lay in wait right here in Bennett's Harbour.  Sailors traveling the ancient shipping lanes of Exuma Sound with precious cargo often paid the ultimate price.

 In the South, you can see the Arawak caves at Columbus Point, considered by many Bahamians to be the first place that Christopher Columbus landed in the "New World".   Back in the days of Christopher Columbus, the island we know as Cat Island was officially named San Salvador by Columbus, which means Holy Saviour, and was the first land in the New World he 'discovered'.   In 1926,  nearby island Watlings Island was renamed San Salvador, a decision rumored to be based on an article written in the London Times by a man who wanted to increase the value of his holdings on Watlings, so the name Cat Island was restored. 

Settlers

The first European settlers - British Loyalists, fleeing the newly formed United States  arrived with their slaves in 1783, set to work establishing cotton plantations. Fortunately for the slaves, when the cotton industry failed they were freed and turned to farming peas, corn and potatoes, and later to growing pineapples.

 From the Main Road, which runs the length of the island, , you can see the ruins of the slave quarters along the sea, and the stone walls that were built to divide the plantations hidden in the bush.  At Port Howe you can see the ruins of the Deveaux Mansion, a 2-story whitewashed building that was once the home of Col. Andrew Deveaux of the US Navy and given to him as a reward for recapturing Nassau from the Spaniards in 1783.  At the age of 26, Col. Deveaux, a veteran of the Revolutionary war, sent 'anything that will float'  with a lantern into the Harbour making the Spanish believe that there was a huge fleet waiting for battle.  They retreated, and Nassau Harbour was saved.