In the Daily Herald of today Patrick Geans is looking forward towards 2014 Carnival. Up from The Bottom to Zion’s Hill; down from Hell’s Gate to the slopes of St. Johns; from the quaint shops and homes of Windwardside to the deep blue shores of Cove Bay; from the top of the kingdom’s highest peak of Mt. Scenery to the industrial buzz at Fort Bay Harbour, the call is going out for the diverse parts of the island community to come together to “Fete and Spree in Unity” to celebrate the 39th Annual Saba Summer Carnival Festival, beginning July 24 and continuing through August 3, 2014. The unofficial slogan for this year’s Carnival is “Saba Carnival is all ah’ we!” Organisers are hoping that Carnival Season can be a time for not only celebrating, but for re-establishing the island’s history of unity in the face of difficult terrain to cover.
Time to party
“With all of the challenges that folks are facing, people talk about how tough it is to live. I agree that things are tough, but at the end of the day, we have to try and get through it together and show the rest of the world that, at least in this area, we are together on the issues and that we can celebrate,” said Dave Levenstone of Saba Cultural Foundation. “Carnival is a time to party, but it should be done with a spirit of being together. I’m hoping that at the end of the event, the community would have enjoyed themselves and realise that together we can do a lot.” To that end, Carnival 2014 has been expanded from eight days to 11. In addition to bringing in noted performers from abroad, organisers have also included venues featuring local talent and perspectives of all ages. Highlights will include Back in the Days featuring Mighty Sparrow and the Jolly Boys on July 29. On July 28, a Bit of Everything Night featuring Jamaican reggae artist Radcliffe Harriot and St. Maarten’s Combination Band. Zouk Night on July 30 will feature Youth Waves Band and Oswald from French St. Martin, along with Luc Leandry of Guadeloupe.
Local talent will also be featured with Saba Starz Night on July 26, a special Queen Show called “Taking Care of Our Own,” featuring single mothers on July 31, and the Calypso Show on August 1, featuring Calypso King of St. Maarten 2014 Young Calix the Protege and local calypso artistes such as Irvin “King Topo” Riley, Bob Morgan, Sislene Matthew, Cirilio Matthew and Elsa Heyliger. “We want the calypsonians to come and participate because they are the mouthpiece of the people,” Levenstone said. “We want them to sing about the real issues of the island. We want them to sing about the hardships and triumphs of the people. Those are the things they can sing about…So whether you are big or small, everyone gets to hear what you have to say. “It’s the same thing with the Queen Show. This one is a single mother’s event. I have told the girls who are in it: ‘This is a night where you can go there and call out the men.’ They need to ask: ‘Where are the fathers?’ That goes for all the fathers, myself included. I’ve told the girls that in their skits, they should not be easy on the men. We feel that the single moms out there don’t get that exposure. We want to expose their lives and the lives of the men so they can talk about what’s hard in their lives.”
Road shows, parades
Of course, Carnival is not complete without the road shows and parades. The Grand Lighting Opening Jump Up will kick off Carnival at 7:30pm on July 24. It will start in Windwardside and proceed down the road to Carnival Village at Princess Juliana Sports Field in The Bottom. Road music will be performed by Nuff Sayd Crew. Kollishon Band will be the opening act. The Children’s Parade and Youth Night Parade will take place at 4:00pm July 27. Carnival festivities will wind up with Jouvert Morning at 4:00am on August 2. St. Maarten’s Official Band will be performing. The Grand Parade will get underway at 4:00pm that same day with Small Axe Band of St. Kitts. “We have all these events, but the main events of Carnival are the parades,” Levenstone said. “That is where you have to expose your culture. It’s nice to say you are bringing in Mighty Sparrow and other people, but at the end of the day, that is someone from outside…So for me, it’s about the Queen Show, the Calypso Show and the parades, which are very expensive for participating troops…Sparrow has been around for a lot of time. He has a lot of fans and I’m hearing a lot of people say they are happy he is going to be here. It’s all based on what the people say they want. We can say that we are going to bring in this person or that. But it is left up to the people. We want to bring in the bands that they want.”
Levenstone said he would like to commend the work of Saba Cultural Foundation’s Board for their work in putting this year’s expanded schedule together. Board members include Vice Chairman Beatrix Heyliger, Secretary Sislene Matthew, second Vice Chairman Philbert Ryner and Edsel Lake. Levenstone says he is hoping that the event will reflect their hard work and dedication and help build toward an even better Carnival for the 40th anniversary. “I feel confident in my board. We meet every week and our meetings are not 10- minute meetings. Sometimes they go on two or three hours,” he said. “We discuss a lot. We are a few days away and like I tell everybody: ‘We are ready.’ We just hope the people are ready.
“I would like to see the 40th anniversary be even bigger and we would like to get the input of the schools and other areas. We need to go into the schools and talk about Carnival and what it means from all angles: cultural, ecological and financial. I think those are all the areas we have to look after. Saba is an imported culture, so we always have to ask what can we bring in. We have to work hard to identify what is ours because anything that we do will always be a mixed show. We have to do more to teach about our culture. “That is why I fought hard to increase the dates. We used to be starting on Monday, but now we are starting on Thursday. We increased it because we are heading into the 40th year. That will be next year and we want to build toward something special.”