While it might not have received the $1.5 million needed, the National Parang Association of Trinidad and Tobago (NPATT) is grateful for the show of support from corporate TT and the wider citizenry after its public appeal for funding.
Last month, the association made the appeal so it could host this year’s festival, and also outlined future plans for the body and genre.
Fresh from the successful Mi Parranda: The National Junior Parang Festival 2023 on November 18-19, its president Alicia Jaggasar said the body will now host its first-of-a-kind parang tent, at La Joya Sporting Complex, St Joseph.
The Parang Tent will have its first show this Thursday (November 23) at La Joya Sporting Complex, Eastern Main Road, St Joseph, from 8 pm. The other dates are December 7 and 17.
The final show, on December 17, will be on a Sunday and will start at 5 pm.
Each night will feature five parang bands and three soca parang artistes. Some of the secondary school bands that competed in last weekend's competition will be among the opening acts.
Last year's Instrumental Competition winners will also entertain the audience at Thursday's show. These will include the winners in the marac, box bass, cuatro, lead instrument (mandolin or flute) categories.
Initially troubled for funding, the association received help after its appeal.
National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), National Flour Mills (NFM), EPL Properties Ltd are among its sponsors, with the latter renting the complex at "minimal cost."
It was still awaiting word from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts. Jaggasar said the ministry always supports the association, but the final amount is yet to be identified.
Carib, Blue Waters and Arima mayor Balliram Maharaj are also among this year’s sponsors.
Maharaj has also committed himself to helping the association “engage some of the businessmen to ensure that the show comes off and we can pay for the show,” she said.
The association reformatted its plans to match the funding it received.
Initially, there were plans to go to different communities, but that cannot be done this year. Each community venue would have cost over $100,000, she said.
This led to the association deciding to host the tent, one of the plans discussed in the earlier press conference.
Jaggasar said the only festival venues the association was able to save were the Arima Velodrome and the Lewah in Point Fortin.
“We are partnering with St Anthony’s parish and we are doing the Lewah up there and also Sacred Heart RC in Buenos Ayres. We are coming together and they are helping us to produce the Lewah on January 6.”
Those are the two major community events, apart from a launch in Toco on October 14.
While funding might have been an issue this year, the association is already putting things in place to avoid this next year, including contacting corporate sponsors earlier and doing its own fundraising.
NPATT has plans to “make representation” in the first quarter of 2024. It plans to “go into full fundraising” on its own, after Carnival 2024, and to host fundraisers in each season of the year.
“We are not waiting for September to come for it to be our major fundraiser. Even for Carnival, the jazz season, Easter coming, we will host fundraisers,” Jaggasar said.
She said NPATT also plans to rely more on community sponsorship such as hardware stores, groceries and variety stores in future.
A new parang competition might also be part of next year’s fundraising efforts, if its membership agrees.
The last parang competition was held in 2016. The association plans to return the competition but to do so strategically.
“Since 2018 we have been trying to rebuild the association from that. At our first general meeting, we are going to put it out to our band members and ask them if they are willing to look beyond that and restart the competition.
“Even corporate TT tends to support that more than the normal festival,” Jaggasar said.
Speaking to the encroachment of Carnival on the Christmas season, Jaggasar said it pains her heart.
“When Carnival is this close, we don’t get a chance to really celebrate the way we want. Even corporate TT and all these entities that have a Christmas function, it still ends up like a Carnival fete, because when you go, they will have a parang band playing, yes, but when you go, it is full soca, and they would hire soca artistes like normal."
She had high praise for the media for their help with this year’s festival, thanking them for publicising the need for funding.
“Everything went out there, people started to reach out to us. They may not be able to assist in 2023 but there is 2024, God willing, and I want to thank the media.”
She encouraged media professionals, saying it was through the media that organisations like NPATT gained support.
Jaggasar asked TT to keep the Christmas
spirit alive even as it readied itself for Carnival.
Apart from the tent, people can enjoy parang at the upcoming Pan and Parang competition on December 3 at Ortinola Estate, Maracas. This is being held collaboratively with Tourism Trinidad.
NPATT will also partner with Naparima Bowl as it hosts its Christmas market: the parang festival will be a component.
These partnerships opened doors for parranderos to earn during the season, she said.
Junior parang contest winners named
Morvant Epiphany Anglican retained its title as the Junior Primary School Parang winner while Bishop Anstey and Queen’s Royal College were the winners of the secondary schools' category.
BPTT returned as a sponsor for this year’s junior competition after some years away, Jaggasar said.
“We were so, so very grateful.”
There were 22 primary schools and 16 secondary schools competing for this year's title, she said.
Owing to recent shootings in the Belmont area, for the school contest, the association had to change venue from St Francois Girls College, Belmont, to Bishop Anstey High School, Port of Spain.
She said parents called voicing concern, as well as providers whose equipment was left at the initial venue overnight.
Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly assisted the association with the quick move, and Jaggasar again expressed gratitude for this.
“It was a blessing. We thank the management of Bishop Anstey and the bishop himself (Anglican Bishop Claude Berkley) for coming through that last minute for us. It was a quick change.”