A MONTH of showcasing the best in Junkanoo talent, music from uniform groups and the Urban Renewal Marching Band, food and arts and craft items to crowds of thousands has made Junkanoo Summer Festival a resounding success.
Against the backdrop of the 50th anniversary of tourism in the Bahamas, the festival - held each weekend in July - has emphasised the need for the country to put on as much as it can for vistors.
“The Bahamas is renowned for its tourism, but they are talking about the hospitality, they are talking about its service and the beauty of this country,” Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe said.
“So if we work collectively to ensure that we deliver the best product, they can understand how effective and how important it is to our economy.”
Mr Wilchcombe was speaking as the final weekend of the Festival started with the “Tourism is Everybody’s Business Rush” on Friday, during which ministry staff, corporate sponsors and uniformed groups paraded in downtown Nassau.
Based on feedback from locals and visitors at the Junkanoo Festival Mr Wilchcombe said: “We need to have much more. We need to have many more activities particularly on the weekend. We’ve seen the tourists flock in and many more people want to see Junkanoo. They hear about, they’ve talked about it, they’ve voted on it and the truth is they don’t get to see it. So, the more things we get to do, the more creativity we can apply.”
Mr Wilchcombe envisions several major events per month thrpoughout the year “so that there will there be no dull moments and that it will always incorporate our culture.”
Tourists and visiting Bahamians were thrilled and impressed by Junkanoo. One visitor from the Azores, the Portguese islands in the Atlantic, an autonomous region of Portugal, was excited to be among the crowd. “The groups are different. I have never seen this, even in Portugal. It’s a lot of fun and the people have a lot of spirit. I am enjoying it,” he said.
Bahamian Raquel Bethel and her husband said: “It’s a wonderful place to come, to relax and enjoy some great Bahamian music and Junkanoo. I like it because it should be less competitive and more relaxed. It’s a nice casual and a great place to come downtown and enjoy your culture.”
An African married to an American who lives in Missouri said the music reminded him of his birth homeland. “We are having a wonderful time it is very beautiful and very interesting,” he said.
Bahamian Elbert Thompson said it was wonderful to see the Urban Renewal Marching Band and enjoying young people coming together for such an activity.
“It’s just enough Junkanoo for me, right in the middle of the year. It gets us ready for the two main Junkanoo parades – Boxing Day and New Year’s Day,” he said.