Carnival continues to grow on the heels of 50 years

By Andrew Dick

PHILIPSBURG–Carnival 2017 ended on Wednesday and The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) has already started to prepare for the 49th year of St. Maarten’s Carnival. Looking back at the 48th season, there is much to learn from as the organization responsible goes back to the drawing board and looks at ways to improve the island’s biggest festival.

The Carnival Pre-events saw King Rumer being crowed for a third consecutive year as the Road March champion. Rumer made history as the first performer to win the title three years in a row. XP band made their own history as the defending champions of SCDF’s Band Clash.

One of the most noticeable flaws for this year’s festival was the discontinuation of internet live streaming of all Carnival-related events. Students and Carnival lovers looked forward to the stream as they got to witness events as they happened. The stream was introduced when SCDF was under the leadership of now Treasurer Michael Granger some three years ago.

New President Alston Lourens decided not to go with the stream this year and wanted to outsource it to a local company, however, the company was unable to deliver the stream in time. Opening Jump-Up was well attended by revellers who looked forward to a productive season.

Posh Productions was first up with the Teen and Senior Carnival Queen shows. While the shows had low attendance, the production of the shows continues to set the standards for pageantry on the island. The Junior Carnival Queen show was held outside of the Carnival Village and was well attended by the public.

With Posh Productions having one more year on their contract as the official organizers of all Queen Shows for Carnival, the group announced this year that they plan to have a Mr. GQ pageant which will feature heterosexual men from the community. The announcement sparked a wave of interest from social media lovers. All in all, Queen and King Pageants look promising for the 2018 Carnival season.

Raw Promotions was charged with organizing the Senior Calypso eliminations and finals this year. Calypso continues to be the art form filled with social commentary and positive messages for government and society. The new promoter could have done a bit more to promote the events and songs but the show always sells itself.

As the organization put it, the financing of these shows are hard to come by, however, they believe in the art form and will continue to grow the product and seek other ways and means to sustain the continuation of the shows. Raw promises to continue with Calypso tents for next year’s season.

SCDF’s Culture night was one for the history books as St. Maarten’s culture was displayed on stage. A true melting pot of cultures performed for the evening that saw Chinese, and Indian nationals among other cultures for the first time in great numbers in the Carnival village.

For years, the Indian and Chinese community felt unwelcomed in Carnival; SCDF decided to open up a night that would celebrate these cultures on stage. Guyana, St. Kitts and other neighbouring islands were also represented on stage. President Alston Lourens said that the night will be back on next year’s calendar.

Carib Beer Caribbean Flag Fest had a blend of bands that set the standard for other international shows to follow. The show at a high attendance level and the calibre set last year, continues to grow into a huge Caribbean flag representation event. The only challenge organizers 78inc will have is to top previous years.

Bacchanal Sunday, the Caribbean’s biggest wet fete followed the flag fest event. The event was one of the most anticipated shows of Carnival. Bacchanal Sunday fans complained about the length of time some performers had on stage while local acts had less time on stage. Organizers Kalaboom already announced that they are looking at ways to improve their performances structure for 2018.

Youth Extravaganza was indeed a platform for youngsters on April 24, with the Dutch side and French Side theme. Thousands of young persons flocked to the Carnival Village dressed in Black and white to witness the best in youth entertainment on the island.

The show was stopped by authorities based on vulgar music being played. Minister of Youth Affairs Silveria Jacobs was at the event and agreed with SCDF pulling the plug on the event. Organizers Laugh Out Loud productions apologized to the public for the content that slipped by auditions and thanked the SCDF for the opportunity to host the show.

Soca Rumble is the premier show where St. Maarten Groovy and Power tunes are born since its inception. Organizers Montage NV should be commended for organizing a full-fledged local show laced with St. Maarten stars. Performers take each year more seriously and raise the bar every time they perform on the rumble stage. The show was also streamed live on its website for those off island.

Jouvert-Jump Off fell short of what was intended by SCDF. Regional stars graced the stage prior to Jouvert but only hundreds turned out to support the event. SCDF will have to go back to the drawing board and put on an event that will draw revellers to the village prior to Jouvert.

Jouvert morning Jump-Up was an epic experience for many. Of course there were the usual disagreements by some and police had to get involved, however, the Jump Up had a large turnout and the ‘only local band-rule’ by SCDF continues to be a working formula. Carnival lovers continue to support all bands for Jouvert and the popularity of DJ trucks is something that needs to be monitored by SCDF.

Carnival Crossover DJ competition followed Jouvert in the village and this show fell short of attracting regulars to the venue. DJ’s played different sets and international DJ’s were flown in by organizers. This event is another show that needs to be carefully looked at and restructured.

TelCell Night of the Hit Makers’ 5 year anniversary took place on April 28, and a night of the hit makers it was. Performers gave it their all as attendees danced the night away on an open dance floor. Highlight of the evening came when Claudius Philips brought several St. Maarten performers on stage to sing some of their hits. Xtratight Entertainment has one problem, how will they top next year? Organizers are already working on the challenge.  

SCDF hosted their One Love Reggae concert the following night with the right ingredients for a well-rounded show. With an all-star line-up, One Love concert holds the record for the biggest crowd in the village. The foundation will hold on to the night and continue to develop the one love brand. The ticket prices were a bit steep according to some Carnival goers and they hope that SCDF will look into that factor for next year’s event.

SCDF’s Latin night was another highlight for Carnival with Latin superstars flying in and performing for attendees at the concert. Concert goers wanted more artistes then DJ’s but overall were happy with the show. Rain did affect the attendees throughout the night but that did not stop them from enjoying the evening.

The Grand Parade was well organized this year with just 11 groups. Even Prime Minister William Marlin said that years ago, his thought was why is the parade so short? However, this year it was, when will the parade end? Young and the not so young made up most troupes in the parade.

Troupe leaders and parade participants should be commended for putting on a specular parade this year. A special mention goes out to sponsors who support these stakeholders from the onset. The closing Jump-up was the final event on the Carnival schedule. The Big Bad X Band was named Band of the Year.

On the same evening, King Momo was laid to rest and burned at the stake as the public prepare to wait again for the Carnival season to come around the corner. SCDF members are to be commended for taking on the huge task of organizing the island’s biggest festival. Carnival was indeed Sweet.

Source: The Daily Herald