From left, NCC commissioner, Darian Marcelle , TUCO president Ainsley King, NCC chairman Winston Peters and San Fernando convenor of carnival Dawad Phillip in conversation during a tour of Skinner Park, San Fernando, on Thursday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder
STAKEHOLDERS have major plans for Carnival 2024 in San Fernando as many popular shows return to Skinner Park.
On Thursday morning, representatives of Pan Trinbago, Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO), the National Carnival Commission (NCC), Southex, and the San Fernando City Corporation (SFCC) made a site visit to the park to begin planning their events.
Returning to Skinner Park for the first time in three years, Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore is expecting a significant turnout to all its events – especially from the international community.
Speaking to Newsday during the site visit, Ramsey-Moore said the increased turnout would be owing to an aggressive international marketing campaign by Pan Trinbago, coupled with the recent inclusion of World Steelpan Day on the United Nations’ calendar of events.
“Since last year October, we were out there. We went to Miami Carnival, we did our promotions. We went to New York. We went to the Caribbean.
“Our calendar has been out, and a number of persons from the diaspora have already indicated that they will be coming in. You know we have a lot of pan lovers around the world and they will be coming in.”
She said Pan Trinbago had already sold a significant number of tickets for its events to international customers online.
“So we expect a lot of tourists.”
She said the organisation had also been working closely with #visitTrinidad to help promote its events and had received positive feedback.
Looking at the newly upgraded park, Ramsey-Moore said she was confident Pan Trinbabo’s events would be a success. Pan Trinbago will host the national small conventional Panorama finals on January 12 and the south-central pan champs on February 8.
Also at the site was NCC chairman Winston ‘Gypsy’ Peters who said he agreed with Ramsey-Moore’s prediction. However, he said the increased tourism would extend to all Carnival events, not just Panorama.
“The trajectory look like that already. It looks like we’re going to have more people here for Carnival than we’ve had before.”
TUCO president Ainsley King also anticipates success for its Calypso Fiesta. However, he said the organisation would be working on reducing the number of complimentary tickets given out.
Speaking to Newsday during the site visit, he said the free tickets sometimes equated to almost 50 per cent of all tickets dispersed. He said tickets usually cost around $200 each and around 10,000 were usually made available.
“We think that the time has come for us to come to actually work on breaking that, because this is our, basically, major event… and the event with the most potential. And we want to work on that complementary culture because that puts us in a very difficult position. And it has put us in that position for a number of years.”
He said the change could bring increased revenue which could thenbe used to expand TUCO operations and help calypsonians.
“Much more could be happening for calypso and for calypsonians but we have to make sure that we take care of our events in a better way.”
Peters, a former calypso monarch, agreed with King.
“People put out a lot of money to put on things. And people have to understand there’s an expectation of a return on what you do.”
Asked if he believed the increased revenue would equate to benefits for calypsonians, Peters said: “Let me put it this way, any money that is saved, right, is channelled to other places. And once it is channelled to the right places, of course, it would help.”
While admitting last year’s “Mother of all Carnivals” fell short of expectations, Southex head George Singh said he believed Carnival 2024 would be bigger.
“The vibes is there, the response is there, sponsors have been responding in a positive way.
“We have already been signalled in the event industry about events that are happening in 2024 that are coming back into the market.
Singh said prospective sponsors were also responding quickly once messaged about events.
He said although the pandemic was nearing its end in 2023, covid19 was still on the minds of many, creating hesitance for this year’s celebration. Now, he said, it’s the last thing on anyone’s mind.
“We’re probably going to see a pre-covid kind of event.”
Singh said the Chutney Soca Monarch would be held on Carnival Saturday, February 10, at the park but would take the shape of a powder fete as opposed to its traditional format.
He said it would also honour two unamed heroes of the genre.
Dawad Philip, convener of the San Fernando carnival, said Carnival Friday, February 9, would see a Canboulay that celebrates its history in the city.
He said San Fernando’s 2024 J’Ouvert route would come from Navet Street, along Coffee Street, across Library Corner, down High Street and come around the Foreshore before ending at Skinner Park.
He expeceted 40 bands to participate in the J’Ouvert.