Saint Lucia
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Carnival 2023 – Bigger and Better

One of these lovely ladies will be crowned Carnival Queen 2023, the competition is already heating up as two others were thrown into the mix.
One of these lovely ladies will be crowned Carnival Queen 2023, the competition is already heating up as two others were thrown into the mix.

It was a heightened and enticing occasion that transfused the atmosphere at the Sandals Grand St Lucian, Wednesday evening, as the ‘movers and shakers’ in the local carnival arena gathered for the media launch of this year’s Saint Lucia Carnival.

To usher in the guests, veteran calypsonian and former Monarch Papa Vader and multiple-time Groovy Soca Monarch King Arthur got the session rolling; before a steel pan display from Courts Babonneau Steel Orchestra kicked off the event.

Last year’s Kaiso Monarch Desral performed one of his winning numbers to the delight of his fans and the audience. A line up of the Carnival Queen contestants were also on show and there was live entertainment with top local artists Sedale, and Ezra the Fun Machine performing,

Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire emphasized the importance of the economic impact that carnival generates in the country, and not what critics discern as just a wild ‘jump up’ and bacchanal affair.

“This year, we are moving towards having the full suite of events…and we want to restore carnival as we knew it in the past,” he declared.

“I’m really excited, this year, about the return of Junior Carnival, and I know that the Carnival Bands Association under Barry George will certainly put out a show for us and for the youngsters,” the minister added.

In an interactive discourse with Media Consultant and Events Organiser Teddy Francis, the minister spoke of the benefits that is derived from the annual cultural showpiece, while noting that carnival attracts the largest number of visitors to the destination.

Hilaire said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic the activities were limited last year, but this year’s event will include the return of a full slate of activities, including; the Junior Carnival and Junior Kaiso, Inter-Commercial House Kiaso and other attractions such as the Community Carnivals.

The minister has requested the management of the Carnival Planning &Management Committee [CPMC] to host the community carnivals before the main event the ‘National Parade’ culminates with the pageantry within the City of Castries streets.

“Once Jazz ends on May, 14 … from the following weekend and every weekend after that we will have a community carnival,” added Hilaire. “And the emphasis is to encourage as many communities as possible for the ‘grassroots’ involvement of carnival in Saint Lucia.”

Commenting on the marketing and promotional aspect of the Saint Lucia Carnival festivity and infusing it into the Jazz Festival, Chairman of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority [SLTA] Thaddeus Antoine noted: “With tourism, jazz is a very strong brand and the avenues that we use to market Jazz, we use it to market carnival. We essentially look at Carnival, Jazz, Creole Festival and Creole Heritage Month, we look at it as all part of a ‘festival country’. Yes, we market tourism as a country, but every tourism (product) has a difference.

“For us, it’s an authentic musical experience. So it creates an immersive cultural experience for the country…and that’s what festivals are all about,” he said.

Adding another surprise to the carnival element after giving recognition to writers, last year, Hilaire said it is important to recognize them “because you hear calypsos, you see the performers but you don’t really acknowledge you did the lyrical composition. So this year our new award will be for the ‘Best Song of the Competition’ …and so, we may have to select a panel that will choose the best song of the calypso season.”

Stressing on the economic benefits of the Saint Lucia Carnival product, Dr. Hilaire asserted: “I think we underestimate the importance of carnival towards the economic development of Saint Lucia… last year, the highest number of arrivals to this country was in July, it is because of carnival. The month that we had the greatest economic activity was July, which was carnival”.

The minister added, “Yet people see carnival as just bacchanal …and people on the streets and what not. There is the artistic and cultural aspect of carnival, but there is also the economic significance of carnival. And many times when people criticize carnival, we really have to make a case for carnival as an economic activity in the country.

“For us, we have to constantly make a case for carnival…to have greater investments in carnival and for us to say the multiplicity of economic activities that are created is quite significant.”

Notably, eight of Saint Lucia’s top artists were introduced as “Brand Ambassadors” for the carnival season, tasked to promote and represent the country regionally and globally.

Announcing the selection of ambassadors, MC Oneka Mc. Coy stated: “The Saint Lucia Carnival is a unique product, which targets audiences from around the world and a key component of our carnival is the music and the connection it creates with our people, diaspora and international audiences.

“Our music industry has opened a doorway for people to enjoy our culture, to experience our island and to connect with our people. Our artist, producers and musicians have a lot to say …and people want it, they need it and are hungry for it.”

Ultimately, the CPMC in collaboration with the SLTA introduced a new feature to the event, with the selected Brand Ambassadors as follows; Cooyah Fire , Ezra the Fun Machine, Hollywood HP, Motto, Ricky T, Sedale , Teddyson “TJ” John , and Umpa.