San Fernando’s pre-Dimanche Gras has been scaled down to a calypso monarch final, as it remains uncertain on whether there will be a king and queen of South Carnival competition.
And the calypso show is moving from south’s big yard, Skinner Park, to the San Fernando City Hall.
“This year there will see a smaller presentation of this event due to cut-backs in funding for south mas production. South Dimanche Gras, due for February 7, will feature the usual Calypso Monarch competition and this will take place at City Hall,” San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello told Sunday Newsday.
Billed in recent years as the Night of the San Fernando Monarchs, the show celebrated the crowning of a calypso monarch and king and queen of South Carnival. It was seen as a curtain raiser to National Calypso Monarch and King and Queen of Carnival finals at Dimanche Gras, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on Carnival Sunday.
The preliminaries for the South calypso monarch took place on Friday and eight finalists were chosen and will bid for the crown at City Hall on February 7.
A decision on if there will be a King and Queen of South Carnival competition is still to be made as Regrello is yet to meet with mas bandleaders.
Regrello, chairman of the South Carnival Committee (SCC), said money woes led to changes of the competition.
He said the committee still had outstanding debts which the National Carnival Commission (NCC) promised to honour but never did. The SCC inherited a deficit of $750,000 in 2013, he said, and this is still an issue five years later. Bandleaders are still owed for last year’s Carnival and Regrello said it was difficult to deal with those issues as the budget kept going down with the economy.
Bandleader Ivan Kallicharan told Sunday Newsday Government owed South bandleaders since March 2017.
“Although we have not gotten our prize moneys for 2017, we are willing to go forward this year,” Kallicharan said, adding his mas camp had already made king and queen costumes and would enter the national King and Queen of Carnival competition in Port of Spain.
The king and queen are from his band Elixir of Life.
“We are still working along naming our costumes,” he said. Last year, Kalicharan’s band copped the 25th Band of the Year title in San Fernando with the presentation, Zante. It was the 11th consecutive victory for the band.
Lionel Jaggersar Jr, a former king, told Sunday Newsday the pre-Dimanche Gras was a very important Carnival event for south Trinidad. “People look forward to spending the evening looking at the south kings and queens as well as the south calypsonians in Skinner Park,” Jaggersar Jr said, noting the absence of the show would change the face of Carnival in south Trinidad.
Jaggersar Jr, whose band Eminence showcases the story of the family mas band, said he understood the south king and queen of Carnival would be judged on the streets during the parade of bands on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.