Happenings (July/August 2010)

A round-up of current and coming events on the Caribbean calendar

Alison Hinds and Richie Spice performing in 2009 at Cohobblopot, part of the Crop Over celebrations. Photograph courtesy The National Cultural Foundation Of BarbadosMarie-Elena John discusses a film script of her novel Unburnable. Photograph by Celia SorhaindoProfessor Don Jacob demonstrates his Don Jitsu-Ryu system. Photograph courtesy Don JacobTraditional Carib canoe racing at the village of Soufriere. Photograph by Celia Sorhaindo

Celebrating Crop Over

Wayne Simmons and Mark Jason Welch

It’s time for Crop Over, the annual festival that sweeps across the green hills, warm waters and sweet canes of Barbados in July and August.

Barbadians are conservative and industrious people, but when the sugar crop is ended, there’s an eruption of merriment. The festival, organised by the National Cultural Foundation, a department of the Ministry of Community Development and Culture, was reintroduced in 1973 as a tourist attraction to highlight the island’s heritage and the creative talents of its performing artists. The literary, visual and theatre arts are showcased across the island, and there are calypso competitions, steelband concerts and costumed carnival parades. There is never a dull moment as private promoters organise cruises, 24-hour parties featuring foam baths, and other imaginative exploits in the six weeks of the festival. Crop Over runs from July 3 – August 2.

For more information: www.barbadoscropoverfestival.com



Carnival’s coming to town

Laura Dowrich-Phillips

The months of July and August usher in a jam-packed carnival schedule for many islands. Though traditionally a pre-Lenten affair, summer carnivals offer extra entertainment for visitors, as they keep the Caribbean party going in the low season. Here are some of the carnival events you won’t want to miss.

St Lucia
Lucian Carnival combines the usual elements of carnival – costumed parades, mobile music trucks and J’Ouvert – with St Lucia’s colourful creole culture. This is particularly evident in the soca music, which was once imported from Trinidad but is now homegrown in the popular Kweyol language. The Cultural Development Foundation oversees the festival, which will run from July 3 –  20. For more info: www.luciancarnival.com

Spice Mas, as carnival in the Spice Isle is called, seeks to infuse some fun into your vacation with its Carnival Monday night-time T-shirt parade around St George’s, unique Jab Jab music, and Grenadian carnival icons such as the Shortknee. Spectators are urged to join the revelry, which takes place from July 8 – August 10. For more info: www.spicemasgrenada.com

“Bring Your Family, Tell A Friend”, is the slogan for Antigua’s festival, which is usually held to coincide with the island’s emancipation celebration on August 1. Antiguans love their carnival, particularly J’Ouvert, which is the culmination of the festivities. The carnival runs from July 25 – August 4. For more info: www.antiguacarnival.com


Island Hopper

54th Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships
When: 27 June – 4 July
Where: Royal Westmoreland, St James, Barbados
What: 140 golfers vie for Caribbean honours
For more info: www.cgagolfnet.com

Reggae Sumfest
When: 18 – 24 July
Where: Montego Bay
What: Top Jamaican dancehall acts perform alongside international performers
For more info: www.reggaesumfest.com

Puerto Rico Salsa Congress
When: 24 – 31 July
Where: El San Juan Hotel and Casino
What: Competitions, workshops and dance exhibitions
For more info: www.puertoricosalsacongress.com

45th Annual Carriacou Regatta Festiva
When: July 26 – August 3
Where: Carriacou
What: Boaters from around the Caribbean compete in a dozen classes. Other activities include donkey racing and a Miss Wet T-shirt competition
For more info: www.carriacouregatta.com

Sandbox Great Fete Weekend
When: July 28 – August 2
Where: Pigeon Point Beach
What: An annual beach party featuring top soca and dancehall acts.
For more info: (868) 788-6409 or (868) 6-TICKET

Antigua Mango Fest
When: August 14 – 15
Where: Christian Valley
What: A celebration of mangoes and their many uses
For more info: antiguamangofest.com

Carib Great Race
When: August 28
Where: Store Bay, Tobago
What: Boat racing, parties and other activities
For more info: www.ttpba.net

Feast of St Rose de Lima
When: August 30
Where: St Lucia
Members of the Flower Society parade the streets of their community dressed as kings and queens, prince and princesses, doctors, nurses, policemen and soldiers.
For more info: call the Folk Research Centre at (758) 452-2279



Dominica does it by the book

Paul Crask

Inspired by pioneering regional events such as the Antigua & Barbuda Literary Festival and Jamaica’s Calabash, Dominica’s Nature Island Literary Festival & Book Fair is now in its third year. To date it has already attracted literary heavyweights such as Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, Earl Lovelace, Kwame Dawes and Colin Channer, all of whom have embraced the event and played a part in making it a great success.

Set against an inspirational backdrop of lofty mountains and lush rainforest, this weekend festival comprises prose and poetry readings, storytelling, music, film, interviews and a variety of free workshops for both adults and children. Especially interesting are the open-mic sessions which offer the chance for everyone to have a go and read their work aloud, usually for the very first time.

Entertaining, thought-provoking, and often humorous, the festival celebrates the Caribbean literary arts in all their forms and aims to encourage aspiring writers and poets to share their work, as well as recognising the literary arts as both fun and potentially rewarding activities. This was demonstrated vividly in 2009 when a captivated audience was enthralled by writer Marie-Elena John’s discussion of a film script of her novel Unburnable with Hollywood producer Rudy Langlais.

The Nature Island Literary Festival & Book Fair runs from August 6 – 8.

For more info: www.facebook.com/natureislandliteraryfestival



Whale-watching and Carib canoes

Paul Crask

After 17 consecutive years, Dominica’s Dive Fest is the Caribbean’s longest-running scuba-diving festival. Hosted by the Dominica Watersports Association, this action-packed event includes scuba diving lessons, whale-watching, swimming races, beach barbecues, traditional Carib canoe and pwi pwi (raft) races, live music, underwater treasure hunts, and photo competitions.

The aims of the festival are to have fun in the water and also to encourage Dominicans to engage with and enjoy the wonders of their marine environment – frequently touted by those in the know as some of the very best scuba diving in the world.

Dive Fest combines learning with enjoyment, demonstrating how marine-related activities can also offer exciting career choices. There are slide shows, films and lectures on aquatic life, and a chance to get wet and try out scuba diving. Classes for children and complete beginners are offered at discounted rates in both the pool and the open water.

Dominica’s Dive Fest is a well established and popular event, whose headline sponsors Oceanic, SeaLife, and Dive Training magazine are regular headline sponsors. So there’s always a chance to try out some of the latest dive products on the market, and competition prizes are usually fabulous. Starting on July 9, the festival ends on July 18 with the fun and excitement of traditional Carib canoe racing at the pretty village of Soufriere, nestled on the shoreline of Dominica’s marine reserve.

For more info: www.divefestdominica.com



Enter the dragon

Laura Dowrich-Phillips

Martial artists from over 25 countries will take over the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Trinidad & Tobago in July for the 2010 World Karate Championships. This will mark the first time the country has hosted such a major international martial arts event, and it is all in celebration of Purple Dragon’s 40th anniversary.

Professor Don Jacob founded Purple Dragon in 1970 at the age of 15. He began martial arts at nine, learning judo and using the skills he learnt to defend himself against bullies in Laventille, an economically depressed area on the outskirts of Port of Spain, where he lived. When he became a black belt, he travelled to New York, where he trained with a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, the late Grandmaster Moses Powell.

Jacob’s passion for the sport led him to practise techniques in the Queen’s Park Savannah with friends before starting his own dojo. His first space was literally just that, a clearing under a breadfruit tree in someone’s backyard. That didn’t deter the students – at that time, karate movies, described in local parlance as “kick-ups”, were very popular in cinemas and many young boys wanted to emulate what they saw on screen. There were two other martial arts schools in the country, but they catered to a higher-income clientele, leaving Purple Dragon’s grassroots school to take up the slack.

From under that tree, Purple Dragon has grown to a worldwide organisation, with about 20 active branches in Trinidad & Tobago alone, and schools throughout the United States and Canada as well as Ireland, Australia and England.

Jacob himself has made an indelible mark throughout the martial arts world with his numerous achievements, among them the creation of his own system, Don Jitsu-Ryu.

The skills of the Purple Dragon competitors will come up against the world’s best at the World Karate Championships in divisions such as sparring, weapons, self-defence and forms, among others.

In addition, Purple Dragon will also host a Hall of Fame Awards banquet to induct outstanding karatekas nominated from dojos around the world.

For more info: www.2010worldkaratechampionships.com or www.purple-dragon.com