Preparations are under way for Tobago Heritage Festival 2022, set for July 22 to August 1.
After two years of virtual staging owing to the covid19 pandemic, the annual festival will return to an in-person audience under the theme: Reflect, Rebirth, Rejoice – Reigniting the flames of our legacy.
In an interview with Newsday on Wednesday, Tobago Festivals Commission Ltd (TFCL) CEO John Arnold said, “The preparations are ongoing. We’re now sorting out all the final details in terms of financing etc.”
The theme, he said, reflects the energy to reignite the island’s heritage.
He said the festival will help Tobagonians reflect "on where we have come from with the heritage for 35 years, in terms of how it started, what it meant at that time.
"The rebirth has to do with newer energies – how do we start to look at re-engineering and reworking the heritage as how it was and the future aspect of how do we move the festival from its position now, moving forward how do we look at that.
"Rejoice – it is a time for rejoicing because we are still here to ensure that the festival maintains its preservation and retention of the cultural forms that we want to pass on from one generation to the other.”
Reigniting, he said, sums up the whole energy of having those members that are on the cast, put the fire and get the event going with pace again."
The opening-night production will be held on July 22, before action shifts to the Plymouth J’Ouvert and Miss Heritage Personality on July 23. The festival continues with the new Northside combined talent competition on July 24, which will make way for Charlotteville Natural Day Treasures on July 25, then to Pembroke on July 27 for the Pembroke Salaka Feast.
All roads will lead to Les Coteaux for the Les Coteaux Folktales and Superstitions on July 28, followed by the Heritage Calypso Monarch on July 29. The Moriah Ole Time Wedding is on July 30, and the festival culminates on August 1 with the Emancipation Day celebration.
He said the event usually runs for two weeks, but this year, because of monetary and time constraints, it had to be revised.
“We had several villages that wanted to participate but we had to cut down to two main things based on finance. Nationally and locally, we do have a challenge with monies. So given that fact, the reality is that we had to work with a smaller budget.”
Arnold said the new Northside combined talent competition will see villages working together.
“Northside is a combination of Castara, Parlatuvier, Bloody Bay and L’Anse Formi. They have all combined to work together to produce that event, but they had to choose one venue and the villagers chose it. The villagers chose to do the event in Castara.”
He is expecting the event to bring an economic boost to the island’s economy.
“The economic benefit would always be the spin-off to the communities and in terms of the festival, it would also have spin-off benefits to those who are coming from Trinidad – the domestic tourist.
"Normally, people book rooms in Charlotteville just to be part of the Natural Treasures, so it does have economic benefits all around: communities benefit a lot, guesthouses, groceries – everybody will have a bligh.”
People, he said, should look forward to a very exciting festival this year.