Carnivals Gone Wild

September 10th, 2011
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] v9-9-Our IslandsIt seems to me that this has been a bad year for carnivals and festivals. The mother of all north coast carnivals is without a doubt La Feria Isidra, the big shin-dig that takes place in May in La Ceiba, Atl├íntida. This year it was especially “poor” in comparison to the previous year. Maybe this was an early indication that the other festivals would not go off so well. The Utilan’s must have seen the writing on the wall because they canceled their annual festival all together.

The Roatan International Shrimp Festival also had its difficulties this year and was not as successful as expected in spite of International artists that were booked for the event and having an unexpected visitor on the day of the event, the tax man.

Then there was the second annual Bonacco Conch Festival. It was a great event and showed improvement in organization over the previous year. The coronation ceremony was held in Savannah Bight. The master of ceremony didn’t work the crowd and few people applauded so the spectators either went home or went to the disco at around 11pm.

The following day a few of the same people went back to Savannah Bight to see the Caymans Islands football selection play a local team. There was so little control and security that the game ended with the Caymanians being pelted with stones by the backers of the local team, shameful.

The following day the carnavalito (mini carnival) was held at Graham’s Cay, everything was arranged by the owner himself and he was expecting a large crowd, but he got a three-piece-band and it turned out to be a disappointment. The matinee event had about the same problem as the others, the live music was provided by a German accordion player and a bass guitarist. That maybe great in Bavaria but in Bonacco it did not go over too well.

I passed on to the Pelican Reef festival, but I was told that I had missed nothing at all. The party at Mangrove Bight was probably the best of the mini carnivals but still, it did not compare to last years carnavalito, this year they only had one band compared to last years two bands and a lot more people.

The festival on the Cay was supposed to be the “big one” however, the one band playing music wasn’t bad but it was still just one kind of music and not all people dig that island shuffle. The floating floats were a mayor disappointment compared to last year’s.

The enactment of the landing of Christopher Columbus on the beach on Sunday was the culminating event of the whole festival. The props were great, but because of poor control, the landing area was crowded with boats and people so the landing party had a hard time landing. The “Indians” did not come down the river in a canoe like they did last year and to top it off, the wireless microphones that were to transmit the dialogs to the crowd on the east part of the beach could not be found. The whole thing came off like sketch from a silent movie. The band was from the night before and the fireworks show was good.

We have copied the “carnvalitos” idea from the Feria Isidra but in La Ceiba there are over 200,000 inhabitants, enough people to support five or six little carnivals during the week long celebrations. In Bonacco we’re only a few thousand and where ever we go during carnival week we run into the same people over and over. For this idea to work, we must change the entertainment so that there is a different atmosphere at each party, there were a lot less visitors this year and I saw only a few foreigners.

My suggestions are that the committee should try raising more funds and advertise a lot more. I also suggest that the coronation should be held on the Cay and that some of the carnavalitos should be eliminated so that there would be one day between them. Communities that are close together should combine their carnavalitos in order to get larger crowds. [/private]

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