After a four-year absence, the eagerly anticipated Calypso Fiesta is set to return on February 11 to its long-time venue —Skinner Park in San Fernando.
Calypso Fiesta, the semi-final round of the National Calypso Monarch competition, is set to be the first cultural event at the refurbished facility.
On Thursday, senior project manager at the Urban Development Corporation of TT (Udecott) Terrence Beepath told Newsday that finishing touches were being done at the multi-purpose facility.
He said an opening ceremony is set for February 4.
"Invitations would be sent out for the opening soon. The Prime Minister is expected to attend. An invitational football match between Presentation College and St Benedict's College would take place at the opening," Beepath said.
"The pitch is north-south as how it should have been, instead of east-west. We have a better cycling track now."
In 2019, the park was closed for renovation.
Skinner Park's redevelopment project was executed in two phases. The first phase included demolishing, designing and constructing 6,000-capacity stands and refurbishing the field and cycling track.
Udecott website says the second phase included the design of underground parking and redevelopment of the basketball courts and tennis courts.
Calypso Fiesta is considered an annual lime, where patrons gather to hear the top calypsoes of the year and show their support or displeasure. A total of 40 contestants vie for a spot in the finals, with their songs ranging from political and social commentary to nation-building and humourous.
The last Calypso Fiesta at Skinner Park was held in 2019. Ronaldo London won the crown at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain.
The next year, owing to renovations, Calypso Fiesta made its debut at Guaracara Park, Pointe-a-Pierre.
Terri Lyons copped the title in 2020, becoming the fifth woman to do so.
Owing to covid19, there were no competitions in 2021 and 2022.
But in 2022, there was a scaled-down replacement event — A Clash of Tents: Showdown in De Taste of Carnival! —held at Naparima Bowl in San Fernando.
That event was presented by The Trinbago Unified Calypsonians' Organisation (TUCO) and the National Carnival Committee.
Chairman of TUCO South Zone Steve "Ras Kommanda" Pascall said Skinner Park's handing-over ceremony should have already been done.
"The land which is under the control of the San Fernando City Corporation belongs to the people of San Fernando. They are taking too long to hand over the venue. That is how we see it as. It was promised to be handed over on Tuesday (January 17)," Pascall said.
"I always felt it was not going to happen on that date. We are watching to see how it plays out. We hope we get it in time to stage our show (Calypso Fiesta) carded for February 11."
He added that the deadline for registration for the National Calypso Monarch competition was set to end at noon on Thursday (January 19) but has been extended to Sunday in Port of Spain and San Fernando.
He said some members have funding issues regarding their dues and registration fees.
"A lot of people are registering. We are getting a nice crop of unattached people (calypsonians not affiliated with tents). Cro Cro (Winston Rawlins) came to register today. Usually, he comes on the last day of registration," Pascall said.