Anticipation in Tobago is high for the island's historic hosting of the National Panorama medium conventional steelband finals on Sunday.
Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore says the organisation is pulling out all the stops to ensure the event, being held at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet, is a huge success.
"We are in overdrive for the Panorama because this is an historic occasion. So we are trying to get all of the logistics in place. We have
to ensure that the experience is enjoyed by one and all," an excited Ramsey-Moore told Newsday Tobago.
All three of Tobago's medium steelbands – Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra, NGC Steel Xplosion and Carib Dixieland – have secured spots among the ten finalists in the competition.
Katzenjammers, who placed first in the THA Pan Champs competition on February 5, placed second behind Curepe Scherzando in last Sunday's semi-finals of the National Panorama competition at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain. Katzenjammers performed Merchant's (Dennis William Franklyn's) classic Caribbean Connection. The piece was arranged by Terrence "BJ" Marcelle.
Carib Dixieland and Steel Xplosion performed Chris "Tambu" Herbert's Dis Party Is It and Erphaan Alves's Soca Global, placing seventh and ninth, respectively, in the competition.
Dixieland's manager Keston Duke told Newsday Tobago the energy in the band is at its peak.
"It is just going to be great," he said.
"This is a historic event in Tobago and the band is from Tobago and the players want to be a part of history. So they will be going all out to make a significant part in history." Dixieland will be performing in position number six.
Steel Xplosion manager Iran "Duce" Anthony said the Carnbee-based band has progressed over the Carnival season, despite some challenges.
"It was hard work in the beginning up to Sunday (pan semi-finals). We were thirteenth in the preliminaries and now we are running eighth going into the competition (final). So, everybody is on a level playing field and who put in more practice could really win on Sunday."
Anthony said the semi-finals were keenly fought.
"If you look at the points in the semis, the bands are just one and two points difference."
He added the band, which has a full complement of 90 players, will make some changes to its tune of choice.
Anthony said Tobago should have hosted the event a long time ago.
He said: It is very good for the Tobago region because it has been taking place in Trinidad but there was no profit in it. Now, seeing officially they grant us this event, we have to try to make a profit now. Because none of the regions could really help themselves.
"Right now, Tobago is the leading region making their own money. They don't have to depend on central government again for small things."
Anthony said the event will also boost the island's tourism.
"It will help the crab and dumpling man, the taxi driver, the hotels, the reef operators. It will help everybody. Once you organise it properly, it will make some money."
However, Anthony said all five of the regions should get the chance to run their own final.
"You don't base everything Port of Spain. Just as how we go down to Trinidad and have to spend three days up and down, let them experience what we have been experiencing. Then, the national finals could be held here."
Ramsey-Moore, who became Pan Trinbago's first female president in October 2018, told Newsday Tobago the transportation details for the seven Trinidad bands in Sunday's competition are being finalised. She noted Tobago has a long history of travelling to Trinidad for Panorama shows.
"We have been doing this from a Tobago perspective for a number of years. These are just a small number of bands coming up. We accustomed coming down to Trinidad with ten bands at once, especially when we had the competitions together – small, medium and large bands for Savannah Party. So, seven bands coming to Tobago, that is really nothing big for us who were accustomed working it."
Meanwhile, Ramsey-Moore said a team from the organisation is assisting the Trinidad steelbands with their arrangements.
"We have a team in Trinidad that is putting things in place which will definitely make it easier for the bands coming to Tobago. For example, already we have hired help to assist the bands in getting on the boat. And in Tobago, we are also going to be providing hired help to have them take their racks off."
Ramsey-Moore said some of the bands also have indicated they will be loading their trailers from Trinidad to Tobago, which, she expects, will make the process even easier.
She said the show, which is scheduled to begin at 7 pm, should be finished before midnight. Ramsey-Moore added there will be a party after the results are announced.
The pan boss said she is overwhelmed by the response she has received, thus far, for the historic event.
"A lot of people have already indicated they have bought their tickets and booked for Tobago. Since the year began, people were telling me that. So, we expecting to see a lot of people coming across (from Trinidad) as well as a great turnout from Tobago."
Carol-Ann Birchwood-James, Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association vice-president, could not say if there has been an increase in hotel and guesthouse occupancy because of the event.
She said: "We believe there should be an increase but I haven't heard anything like that from our members. What we do have is a slight increase in visitors because of that Canadian flight (Sunwing). But, l know that people bought tickets (for the competition) and of course, they are staying somewhere. But we have not got that indication from our members."
Birchwood-James said the association welcomed Ramsey-Moore's initiative to host the medium band Panorama competition in Tobago.
"We are encouraging people in Tobago to go and support the initiative because we want it to continue. We are sure we will have an increase in visitors. Whether the sea and air bridge can take the demand will be another thing. But we will see what happens this weekend. The hotel and tourism association and the people of Tobago welcome the initiative and we are going all out."
Birchwood-James said she will be attending the show.
"I will be there. I have never been to a pan competition before. But I am going out there with my friends to enjoy the medium band Panorama in Tobago, that historic occasion."
Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra
NGC Couva Joylanders
NGC Steel Xplosion
Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille