The unusual cold in the United States seems to be chasing masqueraders to Trinidad Carnival this year. At least that has been the experience of 2017 Large Band of the Year winner Ronnie and Caro, as the band is seeing a larger than usual influx of foreigners registering to play mas.
Bandleader Ronnie Mc Intosh told Sunday Newsday it had not been affected by the downturn in the economy. “We always have a high percentage for foreign based masqueraders and they move early, most of them register by November. But because of the bad winter they are having, there is an influx of foreigners so we had no slow down. We’re on track.”
Leaders of a few large bands on Friday said they had been suffering losses over the past few years because of the economy as well as other issues including crime, difficulty in sourcing material, and foreign exchange shortages.
However, that has not been the case with Ronnie and Caro. Mc Intosh said it was usual for locals to register late as many wait to receive their salaries after Christmas spending. He said locals were “now starting to feel the vibe” and they too had begun to register.
Trini Revellers bandleader, David Cameron, said he had not had any problems producing his band this year, and had no issues with a lack of foreign exchange or sourcing materials. He was also sceptical that the economy had anything to do with their reduced registration. The reason, he said, was because many expensive, all-inclusive fetes were sold out this season and did not believe finances had anything to do it.
However, Cameron said business had seen a significant drop in the past few years and there was a further decrease this year. The problem, he said, was the lack of marketing by Government. “We are still hoping that last minute sales will take place. But the main problem with Carnival now is the Government does not advertise, promote or glamorise Carnival.”
He said it was the main drawback because Trinidad Carnival had a lot of competition in Miami, Brazil, Toronto, and other cities around the world. Therefore, the number of potential masqueraders, both “authentic foreigners,” and migrated Trinis and their families, were decreasing.
He said bandleaders needed to meet with the authorities and again put ideas to them to generate a “proper festival” and to get people to return to Trinidad Carnival.
Kathy and Karen Norman, leaders of K2K Alliance & Partners, also said they were not affected by the issues of other bands.
In an emailed response, they explained, “K2K is a lifestyle choice, focussing on garment functionality after the Carnival season. The brand attracts those clients that are interested in a more sophisticated and multi-functional garment offering in tandem with an intimate Carnival experience. With that said, our platform is quite niche and as a result, our registration has not been significantly impacted by the downturn.”