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(SNO) – Popular Jamaican dancehall artiste Popcaan and French superstar Kalash are the headline artistes for this weekend’s (August 10-11) inaugural staging of Mercury Fest St. Lucia, which replaces Mercury Beach.
This was disclosed by Director of Epic Events, Sheldon Michel, at a press conference to launch the event in Saint Lucia. The event was launched in Martinique on July 10.
“When I realised Mercury Beach would not be happening in Saint Lucia this year, I approached Mr. Pinkley Francis, the local agent for Mercury engines. I made the case to have Epic Events host Mercury Fest. I am truly grateful for the support he has given us,” Michel said.
Michel went on to explain that Mercury Fest will be held over two days — August 10 and 11 — and comprised of three events.
Mercury Fest kicks off with the Friday night street party in Gros Islet, which Michel said “continues to be a top attraction to visitors”.
“From 8 p.m. on August 10, persons will be encouraged to enjoy the culinary delights and local entertainment in Gros Islet, prior to the party being moved to Pigeon Island with a performance by French superstar, Kalash.
“Then from 9 a.m. on August 11, the ultimate beach party with performances by the very best Saint Lucian deejays and artistes, Martinique’s top deejays and Jamaica’s dancehall superstar, Popcaan,” Michel said.
Season pass: 230 EC / 75 Euros
Friday night: 100 EC / 33 Euros
Saturday: 150 EC / 50 Euros
Saturday VIP: 300 EC / A100 Euros
Saturday (Cabana): 3,000 EC / 1000 EUros
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee disclosed some “fantastic news” at the launch.
“My information is that the organisers have decided that they will have various concessionaires to take care of the bars and the food component of the event while they focus on the mainstay of the production, which is absolutely fantastic news to the government and the people of Saint Lucia,” Fedee said.
Gros Islet parliamentary representative Lenard ‘Spider’ Montoute said he is pleased that the organisers have ensured that his constituency is more involved in the event, unlike the situation with Mercury Beach.
“I am saying that what we want to do is to ensure that we become partners and that Gros Islet can benefit a lot more from what is going on. I have to say that in past years, I wasn’t satisfied with the benefit that went down to the people of Gros Islet. And so from the planning, I can tell already that we are going to make a lot better use of the opportunity, given the involvement of our vendors and so on,” Montoute said.
He said Gros Islet are “perfect hosts”.
“If you go to the Gros Islet Police Station you may find in the police complaint files, no complaints about noise in Gros Islet or anything like that. So while we are a residential area we are an ideal location for events such as this.
“We are hoping that a part of Gros Islet carnival in the future, we can work alongside the Tourism Authority, Events Saint Lucia to put up events to maximise the profits and the benefits that could be derived to Gros Islet, from events like cricket and other shows that take place.”
Montoute hopes the event will become an annual fixture.
“Hopefully, with better planning and collaboration, we can space Mercury Fest a little further from the carnival because we do attract our neighbours from Martinique for that. We want to ensure that we maximize the benefits from both events. But I fully understand what has taken place this year in terms of the last-minute rush to save the event,” he said.
Outgoing president of the Saint Lucia Tourism & Hotel Association (SLHTA), Savonik Destang, was also present at the launch.
Destang admitted that he was initially concerned about the impact of such an event leaving the island, but he is now “very impressed by the turnaround we’ve had with regards to this event”.
He is particularly pleased that “local entrepreneurs will be responsible for the new event. It is really impressive”.
Destang, who is executive director of the Bay Gardens Resorts chain of hotels, disclosed that his properties and other smaller hotels are benefiting from increased bookings.
“If someone is looking for availabilities at the Bay Gardens Hotel & Inn, sorry, we have none. We’ve just about sold out!” he said.
Events Company of Saint Lucia (ECSL), Chief Executive Officer Thomas Leonce explained how is organisation is involved in the planning of Mercury Fest.
“Our support is very concrete and will range from assisting in attracting publicity, providing staging equipment, and producing tickets in-house. ECSL will also assist in getting work permits for the foreign artists who are scheduled to perform,” Leonce said.
Mercury Fest was created as a result of a fallout over arrangements between the organisers of Mercury Beach and the local authorities.
The original Mercury Beach was held on Grand Anse beach in Anses-d’Arlets, Martinique from July 27-28, 2018.
However, organisers of Mercury Fest St. Lucia said the feedback from promotions are very positive and they expect a successful event.