Vieux-Fort carnival this year was devoid of glitter and glamour, but not controversy, which has affected the quality of the event.
The situation is so dire that two carnival bands, which are currently taking part in the event that ends later today (Monday), have threatened to boycott it next year if certain issues are not addressed sooner, rather than later.
Five bands are competing for the title of “Band of the Year”, two less than last year. They are Meltdown XD, Xcitement, Two Dayz of Peace, Fleur De Lis and Pheonix Carnival Band.
The controversy arose after a few band leaders accused the manager of Pheonix Carnival Band, Adam Evans of allegedly telling sponsors not to sponsor certain bands in Vieux-Fort, and tried to have the police to stop certain events organised by those bands.
This Evans flatly denied, adding that he has a passion for carnival and will not do anything to hurt it.
Evans, whose band won the title of “Band of the Year” last year, said he had cause to serve both the committee and a band leader with a lawyer’s letter demanding that they stop accusing him of telling sponsors not to sponsor carnival bands in Vieux-Fort.
According to Evans, the reason why certain band leaders are targeting him is because they don’t want him to compete in Vieux-Fort carnival.
“They want to see my band off the road…” he lamented.
He added that the organisers of Vieux-Fort carnival are the ones doing harm to the event.
“They are not doing a good job and should go…. They are creating division among carnival bands…” he said.
According to Evans, it was agreed that there would not be any t-shirts in Vieux-Fort carnival this year, but bands continue to wear t-shirts.
“Carnival has gotten worse in Vieux-Fort over the years. There is no more creativity in Vieux-Fort carnival,” he lamented.
The irate band leader said he is not sure his band will take part in Vieux-Fort carnival next year.
Spectators were given a hint that there was controversy in the event when the band leader of Meltdown XD, Barry Hunte, said over the public address system, that his band’s decision to wear t-shirts and not carnival costumes is an act of protest because of what is taking place among the bands.
He also said that what they are displaying is just a sample, adding that they will be displaying their full costumes at the national competition in Castries later this week.
In an interview with St. Lucia News Online, Hunte, who is also a costume designer, said: “As a band leader I have had enough…. We broke the rules today by putting t-shirts on us and not carnival costumes.”
“We are supposed to be united and not divided…” he added.
Commenting on the situation, Nyola Prescott, chairperson of the Vieux Fort Carnival Committee, said: “Everything will come out soon…”