Happenings – July/August 2011

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

  • Curaçao, Aruba soccer. Photograph courtesy www.camscuracao.com
  • Feast on fruit. Photograph courtesy Eric Evelyn
  • Salsa Tour. Photograph courtesy Larry Every
  • Spicemas Grenada. Photograph by Kijana Romain
  • Calabash in Montserrat. Photo courtesy Wayne ‘Fenty—Fenton
  • Great Race. Photograph courtesy Joey Danglade
  • Reggae Sumfest. Photograph courtesy Suki Macdonald Kapahi
  • Mangoes in Antigua. Photograph courtesy www.antiguamangofest.com
  • The Marionettes performing Aida at Queen's Hall in Trinidad. Photograph courtesy Russel 'Butch' Limchoy

Carmen set to captivate T&T

Set for a July premiere, the veteran Marionettes Chorale’s production of Bizet’s ever-popular opera Carmen is one of the most anticipated shows of the year in Trinidad & Tobago.

The production features a stellar international cast. The award-winning principals and Marionettes chorus will be joined by an orchestra comprising both local and British instrumentalists, fusing the best of traditional western instruments with the steelpan. Indeed, it is the first production of Carmen to feature the country’s national instrument.

“There is a lot of excitement all round,” explains artistic and musical director Gretta Taylor. “We had a wonderful experience with our visiting British string players in 2009 for our 45th anniversary celebrations. Our members learned so much from them, and they were completely stunned by the versatility of the steelpan and our musical traditions. We look forward to another cultural exchange with them, and to sharing the stage with the visiting vocalists as well.”

The production also introduces a new partnership between the Marionettes and American singer and educator Dr Vertrelle Mickens of the University of Trinidad & Tobago. The Marionettes Chorale is also partnering once again with its sponsor of 39 years, bpTT, as well as the Noble Douglas Dance Company Inc.

Carmen runs for two weekends, July 9 – 17, at Queen’s Hall in Trinidad. Tickets are available online; at the Queen’s Hall Box Office (868-624-1284); and from the Marionettes (email@marionetteschorale.com / 868-791-1751).

For more information, visit the Marionettes Facebook page at www.facebook.com/marionetteschorale or website at www.marionetteschorale.com.



Curaçao, Aruba score at soccer

Whether you call it football or soccer, the Caribbean has been an active participant in the sport at the international level, with Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz and Trinidad & Tobago’s Soca Warriors qualifying for the football World Cup in 1998 and 2006 respectively.

Football enthusiasts will know that AC Milan has been the training ground for the likes of Ronaldinho and Kaka, so it’s very exciting that from July 11 – 29, Curaçao and Aruba will host the AC Milan Junior camp. A chance for young football talent to be identified and moulded, the camp is geared towards boys and girls, both locally and internationally, between the ages of seven and 17. Reggie Carolina, the co-ordinator of the event, says while the camp is not intended as a scouting event, the two most talented players from each clinic will be invited to visit Milan in October and participate in a two-day tournament.

Curaçao’s football clinic will be held from July 11 – 22, while Aruba’s will be on July 25 – 29.

For more information, visit www.camscuracao.com or e-mail reggie@camscuracao.com



Feast on fruit in Nevis

For many, part of the lure of the Caribbean is the apparently never-ending supply of fresh tropical fruits like mangoes, watermelons, bananas, soursop and sugar apples. So an opportunity to experience this delicious aspect of Caribbean life on July 29 at the Villa Grounds, Nevis should be welcome. This is when the Nevisian Department of Agriculture hosts the annual Nevis Fruit Festival.

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Launched in 2005 as a mango festival to celebrate the many mango varieties in Nevis, it quickly expanded into its current form. Eric Evelyn, the department’s communication officer, says its purpose is to “promote the consumption of more local fruits, showcase the range of products made from fruits, and [encourage] the cultivation of more fruit trees”.

The festival, which is held in late July to coincide with Culturama, has ice cream, pie, and cake competitions, and included a watermelon-eating competition for the first time last year.

For more information contact Eric Evelyn at (869) 663 8941 or e-mail eric_evelyn@hotmail.com



Boys, girls golf in Barbados

The 24th Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championships will once again be hosted by the Barbados Golf Association (BGA) on July 4 – 9, at the Barbados Golf Club in Christ Church. An annual event, it is rotated between the members of the Caribbean Golf Association, and was last held in Barbados in 2001. Birchmore Griffith, president of the BGA and tournament director, is excited that Barbados is hosting the event again: “It is a great honour for Barbados and the BGA to host the best junior golfers from the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, OECS, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, and US Virgin Islands.”

The 2010 championships, held in the Bahamas, saw Puerto Rico walking away with the trophy. The tournament is played over 54 holes, with boys and girls from three age divisions: 11 – 13, 14 – 15 and 16 – 17.

For more information, visit www.barbadosgolfassociation.com or call (246) 826 3626


Salsa Tour spices up Curaçao

This year marks the ninth edition of the Curaçao Salsa Tour, which runs from August 2 – 7, and is open to all levels.

This is the first time that the Salsation Dance Company is hosting the event. International dancers Nelson Flores and Sekou McMiller from the USA, the Venezuelan group Fusión Salsera, and Colombian salsa company Constelación Latina are among those expected to attend and lead workshops.

The tour isn’t just about dancing, as Curaçao’s beaches and culture are also included.

For more information e-mail thecuracaosalsatour@gmail.com or follow them on Twitter@curacaosalsa



Island Hopper

Aruba Reef Care Project
When: July 2 – 3
Where: All Aruba’s beaches
What: A fun two-day beach clean-up
For more info: contact Castro Perez (297) 582 3777 or e-mail c.perez@aruba.com

St Lucia Carnival
When: July 18 – 19
Where: Castries
What: Not just a carnival, it is the cultural expression of the St Lucians, with theatre, music, dance, song, costumes and drama
For more info: call the CDF (758) 452 1859 or the St Lucia Tourist Board (758) 452 4094

54th annual Antigua Carnival
When: July 23 – August 2
Where: Antigua
What: Visitors can experience J’Ouvert, Parade of the Bands, calypso competitions
For more info: www.antiguacarnival.com

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Cropover in Barbados
When: July
Where: Barbados
What: At one time the celebration of the sugar cane harvest, the festivities start in May, although a major part of the entertainment takes place throughout the entire month of July: Soca Royale on July 24, Pic-O-De Crop finals on July 29, and Cohobblopot on July 31
For more info: www.barbadoscropoverfestival.com

When: July 21 – August 2
Where: Nevis
What: A blend of the various folklore traditions that comprise Nevis’s cultural heritage. It includes a food fair, J’Ouvert and a street parade
For more info: call (869) 469 1992, e-mail nevisfestivalssecretariat@gmail.com, or visit www.nevisculturama.net

Spicemas Grenada
When: August 8 – 9
Where: The streets of St George’s
What: Straight from Dimanche Gras on Sunday night, revellers take to the streets for J’Ouvert (the pre-dawn hours of Monday morning), with “jab jab” or devil mas. On Monday, traditional carnival characters come out with costumed revellers, and on Tuesday there’s the parade of the bands
For more info: www.spicemasgrenada.com



Celebrating the calabash in Montserrat

The sixth annual Montserrat Calabash Festival takes place on July 17 – 24 throughout the island. The calabash gourd is used in Montserrat’s crafts industry to make handbags, hanging baskets, masks, decorative art objects, musical instruments, bowls, jewellery, and clothing accessories such as buttons and appliqués, explains Florence Griffith Joseph, the festival’s creator.

In 2008, this week-long affair even featured a fashion show where the designers incorporated the calabash in their clothing pieces. It was so well received, Griffith says, that this year it will again include “haute couture fashion…where we will once again promote our local and creative designers”.

There will also be a food fair, where Montserrat’s national dish, goat water, will be available, as well as concerts, masquerades, and a string band. This year also marks the introduction of the Steel Pan and Jazz by the Bay event, with the aim of attracting jazz musicians from around the region.

For more information contact Florence Griffith Joseph at (664) 492 1743 or e-mail flogriff@candw.ms



Great Race: a Tobago tradition

On August 27, the Carib Beer Great Race will begin at 7.30 am in the waters off the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Trinidad and end in Scarborough, Tobago.

First held in 1969 by Ken Gordon and Ralph Gibson, today it is organised by the Trinidad & Tobago Power Boat Association, and is popularly known simply as “Great Race”. It started out as a chance to party in Tobago, a mandate that still remains, but it is also an opportunity for enthusiasts to fulfil their need for speed.

In 1969, the boats were built of wood and took over two hours to reach Tobago. Today, with state-of-the-art technology and increased horsepower, the aim is to break the one-hour record for the revised 96-mile course. The race is of course open to men and women, but Carol See Tai has been the only woman to win overall, back in 1983, in a 28-foot Pantera named One Zee. And while there have been foreign competitors, only one, Doller Marine Special, has managed to capture the title, back in 1989.

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For more information: www.ttpba.net



Reggae Sumfest in Jamaica

Reggae Sumfest, an annual music festival that started in 1993, is scheduled to take place from July 17 – 23 in Jamaica. The main festival days are July 21 – 23 at Catherine Hall, the festival’s home since its inception.

Originally conceived as a showcase for reggae music, Reggae Sumfest now includes some dancehall and R&B. Past headliners include Shaggy, Beenie Man, Tarrus Riley, Jah Cure, Queen Ifrica, Gyptian, Bounty Killer, and Cecile, as well as international stars like Usher, Lionel Richie, and Rihanna.

With past audiences of 30,000-plus, Reggae Sumfest has cemented its place as an important cultural experience on Jamaica’s event calendar.

For more information visit www.reggaesumfest.com



Anguilla sails into Summer Festival

The Anguilla Summer Festival is an unusual blend of boat racing and carnival activities, and takes place over 11 days (this year, July 28 – August 7). The activities are organised by the Anguilla Tourist Board through its carnival committee.

The festival doesn’t follow the traditional carnival pattern: J’Ouvert is celebrated on August 1, with the route starting in the capital, The Valley, and ending at Sandy Ground in time for boat racing and a beach party at midday. And unlike other islands, where J’Ouvert leads straight into pretty mas, the parade of the bands takes place four days later, on August 5.

The major boat races are held at Sandy Ground, Meads Bay, and Island Harbour.

Visitors can also look forward to the debut Soca Monarch competition on July 31, the Miss Teen Talented Pageant on August 2, the Miss Anguilla Queens Pageant on August 4, and the Leeward Islands Calypso Competition on August 6.

For more information see www.axasummerfestival.com or e-mail sumfest@anguillanet.com



Make the most of mangoes in Antigua

“Mango vert, mango rose, ah want ah penny to buy mango vert, mango rose…” A familiar folk song for many West Indians, it speaks to the love affair Caribbean people have with the fruit.

Though they’re not native to the Caribbean, mangoes are nonetheless celebrated in the Christian Valley Mango Festival in Antigua. This year the festival will be held on August 13 and 14, at the 140-acre Christian Valley Plant Propagation Station, in the foothills of the Shekerley Range in southern Antigua.

This two-day festival was created in 2006 to “promote the increased, innovative use of fruits, featuring mangoes as the flagship item, and the regeneration and expanded use of [the] station”, says Onika Campbell, communications co-ordinator in the Ministry of Agriculture. With the theme “Bigger, Better, more Diverse”, the festival is a family-oriented activity, and also aims to promote agricultural tourism.

For more information visit www.antiguamangofest.com