CARNIVAL FEVER: Organisers hail a 'cultural revolution'


Tribune Staff Reporter


AN “unprecedented” number of people descended upon Clifford Park, the Western Esplanade and Arawak Cay to participate in the inaugural Junkanoo Carnival events between Thursday and Saturday, completing what officials say will become a permanent fixture on the Bahamian calendar that will jumpstart the country’s cultural economy.

Officials yesterday said it was too early to say exactly how many attended or participated in the event or to assess its overall economic impact.

However, it’s estimated that at the event’s peak, more than 15,000 attended Friday’s Music Masters concert – the “largest gathering of people” ever in The Bahamas, some said.

Last week, Mr Major estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 people would attend Junkanoo Carnival adding that the festival could bring in $50m to $60m.

The event – filled with food and arts and crafts – was bolstered by a well-received mixture of Bahamian and Soca music.

There were “no major (disruptive or criminal) incidents” and “no complaints” about security, police Assistant Commissioner Leon Bethel told The Tribune.

The event, which had faced months of criticism, “proved naysayers wrong,” Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe told this newspaper.

He noted that the government, the National Festival Commission and workers in the Tourism and Youth, Sports and Culture Ministries have now put on two major, successful events within the span of a week, proving that the country must add a “label of excellence” to its brand.

“Certainly by all that developed,” he said, “it proved that carnival does have a place in the Bahamas and it can be a unique festival celebrated in a traditional Bahamian way with the inclusion of Junkanoo, highlighting the many talented Bahamians, whether it’s the entertainers, the artisans who produced costumes, the vendors out there with their fine cuisine or the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the entire national security team that worked to turn the place into a spectacular village.”

“While there were those who prayed for rain, the place poured and rained with people,” Mr Wilchcombe added. “We must appreciate that for all the naysayers and those who opposed to the event, the Bahamian people spoke. No one stopped anyone from saying what they wanted to say or from criticising the event, but we stayed focused.”

“Each success, be it the IAAF World Relays or be it carnival, it tells you that collectively we know who we are as a people and what we are capable of.

“We did not let the invited guests dominate the occasion,” he said, reflecting on a prior concern that the event would not be Bahamian-centric.

Mr Wilchcombe added that he wished Bahamian singers ‘KB’, who has flip-flopped on his support for the festival, and ‘Geno D’ had been involved.

“They are two of the best musicians in the country, but in the future I think we are going to see more and more Bahamian artists coming out. What you are now going to see is that Abaco, Eleuthera, Bimini all will want to be a part of this fantastic event.”

In an interview with The Tribune, Festival Commission Chairman Paul Major also said the event exceeded his expectations.

“The spirit of the event, the number of spectators, the number of participants, it was awesome,” he said. “I think we are witnessing a cultural revolution. It’s an economic stimulus.”

Nonetheless, some critics said that while the event seemed to be a big hit among Bahamians, it did not attract the number of tourists needed to provide a major economic boost to the economy as hoped.

Mr Wilchcombe, however, disputed this and said the event will only grow following its successful launch.

Asked about this, Mr Major said: “(That claim) is not true. We were busing tourists from east and west of this venue and continued doing so throughout the event.”

Still, he conceded that the event could have been promoted more internationally. He said the fact that a headliner was not finalised until weeks before the Music Masters concert affected promotional work.

“We will start marketing for the next event as early as September of this year. We may have to look for another venue. This venue may not be big enough to host next year’s event,” Mr Major added.

As for the security of the event, ACP Bethel said the conduct of those attending was “top notch.”

“We had no resistance in terms of security measures. The security was elaborate with many layers in and around the event and we worked hand in hand with the organisers, private security, (and) the Defence Force.”


duppyVAT 9 years, 2 months ago

This cross breed between Mardi Gras and Rio Carnival can work .......... typically Bahamian concept ............. borrow and make it your own

killemwitdakno 9 years, 2 months ago

Where was the cross breeding? this was all Trinidad. Not even Caribana and "Sundays's best" as he said was his vision.

ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

Add some transparency on dollars spent, detailed budget BEFORE (planning) and after, some costuming and behaviour decency rules and it's ok. That said, I want to know what the commissioner's ruling was on the Alfred Gray affair.

John 9 years, 2 months ago

It is the controvesy and the criticism and the opposition, that helped to bring Carnival to a succesful conclude. If you remember the first controvesy was that Junkano was not going to be involved in Carnival. It was suggested here that junkanoo be incorporated in the festival and the. "Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival", name was suggested, then announced as the official name a few weeks later by the prime minister. Then there was the controvesy about an international headliner for the event. At the time Bahamian talent felt it was being ignored and overlooked, but this too played itself out when a (multi) million dollar super star could not be booked and the event was stocked with local talent along with Machel Montana, who many persons felt performed to late and left the crowd still hungry for more. And of course there was the issue about the weather, Some said people prayed for rain and even storms to wash out the event. A stormed formed in the Northwest Bahamas and drenched the islands up until noon of the start of the event. Then the rain dried up and three of the better, sunny days of the year followed, leading to the successful staging of Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival 2015. The cosuomes and the road parade was not as vulgar or revealing as some expected, and the police reported that, for the most part the event was crime free. Anyone visiting any of the sites for the event cannot say that a lot of planning an effort and energy and resources went into the event and regardless of what level of success you want to rate it at, it did not come without a price. Now its left for organizers to promote Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival to the world as a relatively clean, safe and family orientated event. Then the same standards have to be maintained.

killemwitdakno 9 years, 2 months ago

The road parade was not as vulgar because people discovered for themselves what a disgrace it could be and voiced those better expectations. Not like carnival was trying to let anyone know that it was the road wuk up style.

Tommy77 9 years, 2 months ago

Well said.http://s04.flagcounter.com/mini/kfoW/bg…" style="display:none">http://s05.flagcounter.com/mini/WUu/bg_…" style="display:none">

proudloudandfnm 9 years, 2 months ago

Will the PLP market it properly for next year?

I seriously doubt it....

banker 9 years, 2 months ago

There was a stabbing at Arawak Cay during Carnival that was quietly hushed up. Saw the bloody video on social media.

duppyVAT 9 years, 2 months ago

Oh by the way .................. Danny Johnson, PGC and the BNFC had no problem with spending $9 million on Junkanoo Carnival but the MOYSC has cancelled the Primary Schools National Track Championships (Pancho Rahming Meet) .................... now tell me what is the priority of our government????????????

John 9 years, 2 months ago

They need to get the major properties to piggyback the Carnival advertising on their own promotions. Maybe everyone was waiting to see the quality of the product before they advertise it or tie it to their property. But there needs to be more events that utilizes the national stadium. Imagine the maintenance cost to host only one or two events a year.

killemwitdakno 9 years, 2 months ago

I don't see why they don't openly rent the place to whomever as other stadiums do. If they did all this time, we might need less VAT.

killemwitdakno 9 years, 2 months ago

Please don't call this forced overnight addition "culture". Really, why the need to call a soca concert our native culture?

ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

That's what I've been wondering. When they spoke about this cultural village. I expected some neatly laid out temporary, brightly coloured shacks to be lined off on western esplanade, started wondering three weeks out when it was going to start. Then one week out I saw fencing, tents and a stage, I said to a friend how is that setup different from any concert? It's not

Remember the International Music Festival put on by Alpha Sounds(?) I believe. Same venue. THOUSANDS of people, multiple international music acts, wonderful concert, tents with vendors selling food, how is this different?

killemwitdakno 9 years, 2 months ago

Many other concerts here pull the same crowd. it's another version of PLP tacking their name onto something already in progress. i.e. Baha mar.

The revenue generation would have been through the vendors. Which didn't happen. How about help them with marketing. Everyone already knows what a caribbean carnival road 'march' is.

concernedcitizen 9 years, 2 months ago

Let me see 9 million dollars for six nights of parties ,,I 1/2 million a party that did not put one tourist in a hotel ,,We would of been better off to hire professionals to put some ads on US and Canadian and European TV ,,but then all those old wash up hacks would not of had their pockets lined ,,

ohdrap4 9 years, 2 months ago

ZNS interviewed two "Columbians" in Freeport who won tickets on facebook. They loved evrything and must be back in "Columbia" by now. Somone said there was an Argentinian in Arawak cay, but he was probably trying to start a fire there.

ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

LOL. There, headS in beds (more than one head = plural headS)

concernedcitizen 9 years, 2 months ago

The only cultural revolution was a new way to get 9 million bucks out of the treasury and into political hacks hands,,, Cost us the taxpayer about 1 1/2 million a night ,,For that i could of took my boat a cell phone and made beautiful videos of smiling tourist in the Exuma cays and put commercial;s on NY,London ,,etc ,,,That was a PLP convention w/ cash prizes for even walking in the road lol

ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

Yep. Small circle of friends, appointing friends to key positions (because it's only them in the country), then rewarding friends for using the insider info and winning. It's good to be the king but it's even better to make the rules

killemwitdakno 9 years, 2 months ago

if government is going to start being concert promoter , touring through Atlanta with true junkanoo alongside handing out club flyers, then an FCC needs to be implemented for the broadcasted performances. Montano's dancers attire and moves were overboard for national presentation. I don't want to have to hear Alkaline's "let your p**y squeeze my ccky" next year . Then the overwhelmingly influential passive Bahamians will simply say they've seen worse so bring on the most ratchet.

killemwitdakno 9 years, 2 months ago

She felt up her twat on stage. That routine could not have been reviewed and approved. Who was the director? https://www.facebook.com/junkanoocarniv…

Is that what little girls who dream of being on stage should imagine? Everyone might breathe easy if Obie and the committee would emphasize that this is a national event and therefore everything from masturbating to masqueraders screwing in the trees ( which will happen when more visitors partake) will be restricted. This is the closest celebration to INDEPENDENCE time. What a discouraging view. "Sunday's best" remember.

I bet this had something to do with Carnival Cruises marketing. Let's just let the foreign white people paint all afro cultures with same brush as usual.

BahamaPundit 9 years, 2 months ago

I found her performance beautiful and tasteful. There are some things not meant for little kids to be watching. This event was at 4:30 AM. Some things in our society must be reserved for adult eyes only. Excellent show.

MartGM 9 years, 2 months ago

This was by no means an event for children. I attended and thought the dancing was quite professional. If parents wanted to bring their children, then I suggest taking them home by 10pm. Children don't need to be a part of everything.

I saw far too many children out there after midnight, right up to the time MM came on stage. My goodness, he came on at 330 am and finished well after 5 am and children were still there!!

realfreethinker 9 years, 2 months ago

They said that carnival " goombay festival " in Freeport attracted 20-30,000 people but there was only 15,000 in Nassau. O the lies they tell I said from day one they might have had 2500-3000 in freeport.

duppyVAT 9 years, 2 months ago

The ticket sales dont lie ........................... how many persons bought tickets to go into the cultural village May 7-9?????????

ted4bz 9 years, 2 months ago

The crowds were dashing, but check this out. When I worked for TWA airline they invested $11m per yr. They flew crowds into Nassau and Freeport to have fun, but it was not about the crowds nor the fun, it was about the profit, and they profited $4m a year, not enough! So they pulled out because they could do better with $11m somewhere else.

So do the math, either carnival need a full week of celebration or 1 million customers and participants spending no less than $X per person for it to worth the investment.

Economist 9 years, 2 months ago

The Governments new motto "Junkanoo is dead, long live Carnival"

242in404 9 years, 2 months ago

You can't successfully sell something to another group of people unless it's already proven to be a fun and popular event with your own. This first carnival seemed to have done that. Some of us here in the US have been watching and from the footage and pictures we've seen, there are a lot of us (me and my friends of different Caribbean nationalities living in the US) who plan to attend next year!!!

SP 9 years, 2 months ago

100% correct and well said!

This Junkanoo Carnival was the pilot of things to come and proves beyond doubt that "242" is the place with DA' REAL PARTY!

TalRussell 9 years, 2 months ago

Comrade wasn't it Paul Major who while boasting over the great economic success brought to Freeport by Carnival 2015 said, Carnival 2105 would not be costing anywhere near the original 9.5 million dollars budget, that it would be well BELOW 5 million dollars? Strange accounting projections by a man who I have heard on talk radio shows downplaying the 9.5 million dollars with his bragging how he is a numbers man and knows numbers better than all the Carnival naysayers, put together. Yet the PM himself has now stated that 9 million dollars WAS SPENT to host Carnival 2015? What in hell happen Numbers man? Guess what, if ever there are millions spent that will NOT be allowed to go unnoticed and unaccounted for, tis Carnival's 9 million, So get's ready put together all factual numbers for taxpayers to audit, for themselves. They don't need no government auditors be doing no figuring on they behalf. Paul tis hard take your numbers to heart?

killemwitdakno 9 years, 2 months ago

What's makes you arrogantly think it's your place to state that since fellow Americans and other Caribbean's find it hype that it's fitting as is and is culture. Have you been reading the discussions? Evidently not. Bahamians are also bored you know, and this wasn't sold but forced and politicized if you were following. We surely won't like what your crowd will paint on us next if you're bringing a lack of caliber. Acknowledging that this isn't even remotely junkanoo, you're practically saying kick it out, just as this big eye visionless, self inflating, culture degrading government has already cut junkanoo down to one lap but extended the road for carnival's march. Sit small.

242in404 9 years, 2 months ago

Killemwitthedontknow---What are you talking about. The whole point of you guys starting a carnival was to create an event to integrate into Bahamian culture, but even moreso to bring in more TOURIST MONEY. So it is VERY important that Americans, other Caribbean nationalities, and others find it hype. Duh. And looking at the crowd at Clifton Park, I can hardly tell that this Carnival was "forced" on anyone.

People need to relax on the Junkanoo comparisons. Junkanoo is for BAHAMIANS. For 99% of tourists, it is a spectator sport, simply something to see--that's why Junkanoo will never bring in the kind of tourist dollars that the carnivals in T&T, Jamaica, Barbados, etc. Not to mention, Junkanoo happens during a time of year (Xmas & NY) when most people are home with their families and not traveling abroad. Carnival is an event that tourists will come to watch and/or PARTICIPATE, as well as attend a major music event. Junkanoo is safe. It will always be, for the most part, for Bahamians. Carnival is something for Bahamian fete'ers, carnival junkies (there are many) and tourists. Junkanoo and Junkanoo Carnival are apples and organges.

SP 9 years, 2 months ago

You beat me to the punch putting Junkanoo and Junkanoo Carnival in proper perspective for these lame brain naysayers.

These people sit back criticize and complain about everything never have a positive contribution for anything and are void of alternative solutions to that which they complain about.

However, our opinions differ in one sense . I do not agree that Junkanoo cannot be made profitable.

Junkanoo quickly becomes very boring especially with long delays waiting between groups to appear.

All we need do is encourage crowd participation during the "dead time" between group performances.

Locals and tourist can then purchase costumes and become participants which will entice more visitors to attend and create a revenue stream similar to Junkanoo Carnival.

These costumed groups will not in any way deflect or interfere with Junkanoo parade. They will simply be used as "fillers" between groups which will kill the boredom, encourage tourist participation and make Junkanoo a profitable enterprise.

SP 9 years, 2 months ago

......... Christian Counsels Prayer For Rain, Obviously Praying To The Wrong GOD ...........

Unquestionable successful concept launched that should spawn many other music festivals.

Fine tuning time:

1) Grammy Award winners Baha Men should have been the headliner with the visiting popular musician opening for THEM.

2) Increase revenue potential by making it available as a pay-per-view event broadcasting the entire carnival 24/7.

With proximity to 400M North Americans, it is way past time for us to capitalize on it collectively putting our heads together to make "242 party central" of the region!

Naysayers can't argue with success!

SP 9 years, 2 months ago

3) Let the crowd decide the music masters winners using cellphone hashtags to cast votes

birdiestrachan 9 years, 2 months ago

The hotels in my view had an obligation to advertise their hotels and fill their own beds, as far as I am aware, they did nothing zero to promote carnival

ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

Hotels can't market nonexistent headliners. The concert was the main draw. This was a concert. Last year October, this year January, February, March there was nothing to sell.

BahamaPundit 9 years, 2 months ago

Let's give credit where credit is due. Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival was one of the best experiences I've had in my life. Complete hats off to PM Christie for this wonderful event. What many idiots don't seem to realize is that once Bahamians embrace BJC, then tourists will follow. I anticipate thousands of tourists next year. This is without a doubt Christie's legacy and the downers and naysayers will be forgotten like swatted flies. Carnival is the future of the Bahamas! Embrace it, love it or shut the heck up.

SP 9 years, 2 months ago

Agreed....Junkanoo Carnival will be a major part of Christies legacy!

Junkanoo Carnival could easily be the catalyst of several economic stimulating events that causes Bahamas to "turn the corner" in tourism and is THE BEST THING implemented by any government in 40 years.

ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

I had a wonderful time as well. But I'm really perturbed that a party is even being considered a part of, and after three years, is the first item deemed worthy of the PM's "legacy".

Economic impact? This party could bring in 100 billion dollars, until we can guarantee that the money is not pocketed by friends and that shell companies with padded invoices aren't being used, it means nothing. He has NO legacy until people can associate accountability, ethics, decisiveness and transparency with his name and his government. For example, We don't know where the money from gaming legalization went, I've heard that as soon as the cheques cleared, some people were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, we don't know where the money from VAT is going and the fate of the money from this party, if any, is iffy at best.

When he fires Shane Gibson, Alfred Gray, Allison Maynard Gibson, Renward Wells, brave Davis, reveals ALL about the LOI, tells us the BAMSI contractor will NEVER be hired by the Bahamas government again, compels Mother Pratt and Algernon Allen to appear before the PAC, when the BOB loans to the politically connected are revealed and paid back, then and only then does his legacy begin. Until that time he's branded with a failed administration, I suppose that's a legacy as well.

Economist 9 years, 2 months ago

Hey Birdie, you need lot's of lead time.

Most people aren't like us last minute Bahamians. They plan ahead, months and months, in many cases years.

You don't just start an add campaign when the Bahamas Organizers didn't know who was going to perform until the last month or so.

So don't say that the hotels had to do this or that. We Bahamians need to get our act together and stop being like a bunch of armatures.

John 9 years, 2 months ago

Well it is up to the Junkanoo leaders to use carnival as a teaching moment, not to steal the concept or to dilute Junkanoo but to revive it. We know that Junkanoohas failed to grow its fan base over the years because of organizational problems. Groups have cause Junkanoo to become stale and boring by making the groups too large and the costumes too large and the smooth, enjoyable, easy flow of Junkanoo has become constipated. So while the groups must realize it's not all about size (groups and costumes) and organizers must ensure that Junkanoo remains Junkanoo and does not become Junkanoo carnival they must find a way to put the festival spirit back in the parades. And of course changing the winners results three, four even five times after parades do not draw fans.

SP 9 years, 2 months ago

............................. Let's Discuss Making Junkanoo Profitable Too .......................................

Junkanoo quickly becomes very boring especially with long delays waiting between groups to appear.

All we need do is encourage crowd participation during the "dead time" between group performances.

Locals and tourist can then purchase "Junkanoo costumes" and become participants which will entice more visitors to attend creating a revenue stream similar to Junkanoo Carnival.

These costumed groups will not in any way deflect or interfere with Junkanoo parade. They will simply be used as "fillers" between groups which will kill the boredom, encourage tourist participation and make Junkanoo a profitable enterprise.

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