Aug 8, 2010

Trinis storm Toronto for Caribana|Trinidad Guardian

Trinidad and Tobago entertainers Dil-e-Nadan, Ravi Bissembhar, Karma, and JMC 3Veni and over one million visitors were in Canada for Toronto’s Caribbean Caribana festival last weekend. It has grown exponentially since its start in 1967 and is currently North America’s largest cultural festival. Over a million tourists are expected in Toronto.

Pan Alive, the steelpan competition, the Junior Carnival Parade and the King and Queen Competition are some of the events. More than 10,000 masqueraders participated. The all-time most winning band Saldenah Mas-K Club added yet another Band of the Year title to its collection, making the tally 16 for the record holder.

A Category Band of the Year:
1. Saldenah Mas K (446 points)
2. Carnival Nationz (426)
3. Toronto Revellers (422)

B&C Category Band of the Year:
1. (tie) Mas Players Int'l (378 points)
1. (tie) Tru Dynasty (378)
3. Fantazia International (371)

I have many friends and family who left NYC and drove to Toronto for the Caribana Carnival festival. Some went via JFK airport to get there early for the festivities. The common thread was that of disappointment. They claim that the festival was better organized and attended in past years.

Now this does not mean that they did not have a good time at the parties that had Trinidad and Tobago bands and artists performing prior to the big parade days. However, they noted that the festival felt like it was losing touch with the people just like the carnival celebrations back home. I read some of the comments left by bloggers who also expressed disappointment.

I have friends and family who live in the Toronto area and they all had good things to say about the festival. No one had a negative comment. However, many of the people visiting saw something or felt a level of disappointment that the ex-patriot nationals living in Canada did not see or don't want to admit is taking place.

The major problem appears to be that of a disorganized parade that, for some people, does not account for the finances provide for the celebrations. One blogger, houstontrini2 noted: "In most cases it is a bunch of "smartmen" who pocket the money and not pay the artistes, bandsmen and others for their efforts. What's worst, they do not have a proper board with rules and by-laws and most of all accountability for any "government (taxpayers') funds" entrusted to them to promote Caribbean people and our culture. Many of these "carnival organizations" have not balanced their books in many years and then they are upset when these governments refuse to give them any more money until they "close out" the previous fiscal years."

Well it appears that even though for some the festival was a resounding success for others there was disappointment and more of the same "Trini attitude" that does not bode well for the future of the festival.






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