For three days, thousands of people descended on Tobago to participate in the island’s first-ever Carnival from October 28 to 30.
Many of the visitors and coordinators were Trinidadians and for this, Tobago Carnival Committee chairman Meisha Trim is grateful.
She told Guardian Media yesterday that although there was “untrue” talk that Trinidadians were not wanted or welcomed for the inaugural festivities, they still came in their numbers.
“Our Trinidadian brothers and sisters, I would call them, did a marvellous job in supporting even as participants, supporting this project and I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you, for breaking through the noise and understanding that this was really a point of self-determinants for the Tobagonians but never a point of shutting out anyone,” Trim said.
On the overall celebrations, Trim said they hit several milestones, particularly economically.
“All in all, I think economic benefits redounded to persons within the space and that was one achievement that we could say off the bat,” she said.
She explained that business flourished, tourism increased, hotels and guest houses were filled, car rentals spiked, food establishments were busy and photographers and videographers got a lot of work.
Speaking about how the Carnival was received, Trim said she has been inundated with positive feedback.
“From the onset, it looks as though persons enjoyed themselves, just from my personal observation, calls messages I’ve been getting, Facebook and media; social media and traditional media, is really giving us some high praises for the efforts in our first showing,” she explained.
She added that mas bandleaders were also pleased with what they were able to achieve in a short timeframe.
Admittedly, however, she said there are areas where improvements can be made.
“So maybe a few things like our communication channels, the way we were set up to deal with the public, the timeframe in which we set up to move forward and plan those things will obviously have to change,” she said.
That being the case, Trim is confident that a template was laid down for the years to come and to build on.
She said surveys and feedback will also inform the way forward and the intent is to put more focus on Tobago culture and tradition.
Some of the feedback already received came from National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters, who was in Tobago over the weekend for the festivities.
“I thought, all in all, it was a great effort. I said that they made a very good effort, you know, nothing is perfect but it has room for improvement like anything else,” he told Guardian Media.
Peters said he would not condemn anything that they (Tobago) did but noted they just need more time to perfect certain aspects.
Asked what those areas were, he said, “Well maybe to make sure that we have more costumes, maybe to make sure that we have more mas, maybe to make sure that the routes are more defined.”
He said the NCC is still willing to lend support in the future if asked.
But not everyone is giving the inaugural Carnival a thumb’s up.
Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) leader Watson Duke went live on his Facebook page on Monday to condemn the efforts.
“That whole Carnival thing was failure, failure, failure, all yuh (sic) must count up the losses, come and tell Tobagonians and apologise to us. Hang all yuh head in shame and apologise to us, all yuh not listening, like the foolish man who built his house in the sand you all built a Carnival in the rain and want to make money, everything buss,” he said.
Nevertheless, the dates for Tobago Carnival 2023 have already been announced as October 27 to 29.