Although there was no Panorama competition this year, single pan and small steelbands did not hold back as they gave their all at the Pan in D Sancoche national pan event on Saturday.
Performing at Carnival City at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, 15 single pan and 13 small bands took patrons on a trip down memory lane. They played medleys of classic calypso and soca music including Feeling It by Baron, Ethel by Blue Boy, and Black Stalin's Black Man Feeling to Party.
Some came with their flagbearers, dressed in uniform, and grooved to the music while they played with energy for eight minutes each.
Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore expressed pride in the bands.
She said the show brought a sense of relief to the steelpan community after not being able to perform publicly for two years.
She said 83 bands registered for the show and judges whittled it down to those scheduled to perform. She said she did not expect so many bands to participate but was glad of it.
Saturday's event included performances by 28 steel orchestras including Blanca 47, Curepe Polyphonics, San Juan All Stars, TT Fire Service, TT Police Service, TT Defence Force, La Horquetta Pan Groove, Tamana Pioneers, and St Margaret's Super Stars.
"It is amazing because without one cent, because we haven't been given an allocation as yet, the bands have put on their best. I mean they're here in uniform, all dressed up, and that is the resilient spirit of the steelpan movement."
Ramsey-Moore said Pan Trinbago got some assistance from the private sector but the organisation was still asking more of corporate TT to get involved and support youth in culture and communities because there was a shortfall in the budget. The organisation was allocated $4 million by the National Carnival Commission (NCC).
Ramsey-Moore added that the steelpan movement would miss Panorama but they understand the restrictions.
"That is why we are not having a competition per say. Because we don't want to water down our Panorama."
However, there were competitions within the show. For example, IDB sponsored a $20,000 prize for the most technologically-savvy band. There were also best flag waver and best performing band prizes.
The bands had a short period to practise for the show and yet they sounded well-rehearsed, playing some complicated compositions to the appreciation of a relatively small crowd seated in the Grand Stand in groups of twos and threes.
Sandra Griffith of Long Circular found the music to be "great" and she felt safe at Carnival City, so she intended to attend the large and medium bands event next week, especially to cheer on Phase II Pan Groove.
Judith Blackman Francis of St James said she too enjoyed the event and intended to attend as many as possible. She added that she recently retired from the NCC where she would attend most events so, as a lover of TT's culture, she intended to do the same this year.
Catarina Camarinhas from Portugal said she has been working in TT for about four years and it is the first time she has attended a Carnival event other than mas.
She said her daughter participated in Kiddies Carnival in 2018 and she enjoyed it. So when a colleague suggested they attend Pan in d Sancoche, they went as a group.
"It's fantastic. It's fabulous. We're loving it...We'll definitely come back."