THOUSANDS converge this weekend at the Queen’s Park Savannah for the Panorama semi-finals, possibly one of the most dazzling showcases in our rich Carnival tradition. Interest is likely to hit fever pitch, judging from the frenzy of Tuesday’s preliminaries.
Port-of-Spain was virtually gridlocked due to pan lovers coming out in droves to attend the preliminary stage of the competition held in the panyards. Even judges and the Minister of Culture, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, were caught in the jam as pan aficionados and others roved from yard to yard from Mucurapo to Duke Street in the country’s capital.
Defending champions Renegades topped the preliminaries with their rendition of Farmer Nappy’s Hookin’ Meh, but other contenders are close on their heels. All who flocked to the panyards of Invaders, All Stars, Phase II Pan Groove and Desperadoes can attest. The smallest of margins divided them on the judges’ score sheets.
There are also 11 steelbands from Tobago in the semi-finals and stiff competition is expected in the medium bands category as well as small conventional bands.
While there was a failure to anticipate the large crowds on Tuesday, that will, hopefully, not be the case this weekend. It will be the first semi-final held without the North Stand, once a bulwark of Panorama. In recent years, officials have experimented with taking the focus away from the North Stand and turning to other ways of allowing patrons to engage with the music on the greens.
All eyes will, therefore, be on the paddocks to see if the new arrangements by the National Carnival Commission (NCC), dubbed “North Park,” will pass muster. Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore has already said she was upset by the move. But NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters has said the North Stand was simply too expensive.
“It had become an albatross,” he said. “It was just put up for the historical value and not for any monetary gain.”
It will be for patrons and pan players to assess the change.
Meanwhile, this will be the first Panorama semi-finals with Ramsey-Moore at the helm of Pan Trinbago. She has signalled that poor spending practices and poor administration will have to be stamped out. It is hoped Pan Trinbago and the NCC, as well as all stakeholders, have been able to work together so that a spirit of celebration will loom large.
“Any change that has come about in anything, most of the time there is a lot of scepticism because people are always afraid of the unknown,” Peters said last December.
At the end of the day, what matters is that our culture prevails, and that pan will be allowed to shine bright and to hook us.