Chief Secretary thanks oil-spill workers at Buccoo festival

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Carnival and folklore characters, which were part of the street parade,
dance on the main race track at the Buccoo Integrated Facility on

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has publicly thanked all those who have been working tirelessly to clear up the oil spill from parts of Tobago’s south-western coast.

He was addressing hundreds of spectators on Tuesday at the 96th edition of the Buccoo Goat and Crab Race Festival at the Buccoo Integrated Facility. The event was hosted by the Buccoo Village Council.

Heavy rains delayed the start of the popular event by about two and a half hours. The street parade, which featured a host of Carnival and folklore characters, was scheduled to begin at 10 am but did not get underway until 12.30 pm.

The formal part of the event started about 30 minutes later.

In his address, Augustine alluded to the bad weather and its effect on the ongoing oil-spill rehabilitation effort.

He told the audience, “Even as we are having the races today, I want us to take a moment and recognize all of the individuals who have been working in Tobago in treating with the oil spill that we are currently managing. Because while we are here having fun we have in excess of 100 people who cannot be here today to enjoy the races and to have fun. “That is because we have heavy rainfall today and the oily substance that went inland through the rivers courses has the potential of washing out onto the shores, and so they are currently active at work ensuring that they can keep our environment clean.”

Augustine told the crowd to give the workers a round of applause. “Wherever you are, I want you to put your hands together as we congratulate and thank all of the people who have been involved in cleaning up that 15 km radius to ensure that Tobago remains clean and as serene as possible.”

He said the goat and crab race festival, after almost a century in existence, continues to hold its own on the global stage.

Augustine urged visitors – foreigners in particular – to experience the warmth of Buccoo villagers.

“Even as the goat races are going on here, you can step outside and enter a stranger’s home, be safe, and get some good home-cooked meals because we have villagers who have their doors open ready to welcome you through their doors.”

Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe-Lewis applauded the Buccoo Village Council for their efforts.

“You have gone beyond the call of duty, going the extra mile, delivering to the people of Buccoo what community development is really about,” she said. “In some other communities, the village council takes pride in simply owning the key to the community centre and managing the community centre. “But in Buccoo, we can see that community leadership, love, and togetherness are all alive and well so that we can celebrate here today.”

The Tobago West MP also praised the Division of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities, and Transportation for coordinating the street parade and showcasing various elements of the island’s unique culture. “Today, we celebrate culture, we celebrate community, we celebrate Tobagonian pride and dignity.”

Buccoo Village Council president Keigon Denoon said the festival is not just an event. “It is indeed a celebration of our shared heritage, a testament to the resilience of past generations and a beacon of hope for the future that lies ahead,” he said.

Denoon added the festival has been a cornerstone of Tobago’s identity for nearly a century and also a symbol of the village’s unwavering commitment to preserving its cultural heritage.

“This is indeed a time when people of all ages gather together, where the stories are shared and where memories are created that would be cherished for a lifetime.”

He recalled the late Samuel Callender introduced the goat race as an alternative to horse racing. “What started as a simple pastime for the lower class has evolved into a cherished tradition that defines the spirit of our community.”

THA Buccoo/Mt Pleasant representative Sonny Craig also spoke. Road March winner and Young King, Mical Teja, was expected to perform at a cultural show later in the evening.

Among those attending were Chief Justice Ivor Archie, Jamaican High Commissioner Natalie Campbell Rodrigues, French Ambassador Didier Chabert, and High Court judge Justice Frank Seepersad.