By Nerissa Golden
BRADES, Montserrat (GIU) -- Now that Montserrat’s ten-day festival, which culminates with St Patrick’s Day, has ended, festival chairman, Minister of Education Colin Riley, said it has great potential for growth and to become a major attraction for visitors.
St Patrick’s Week is the second most popular festival in Montserrat, after the annual Cultural celebrations in December. This year’s calendar featured several new events including the first African Music Festival, which was headlined by African-jazz fusionist Daby Toure and the band Jalikunda.
Events began on March 9 with a Twenty20 cricket tournament, a fishing competition the following day, the annual lecture with guest speaker Anesta Weekes last Monday and a traditional evening of music with the Emerald Community Singers on Wednesday night.
The Rude Boyz String Band launched their first CD on Thursday evening at Rhythm Night in the village of Salem. This night saw members of Jalikunda providing an impromptu performance as residents and visitors thronged the streets enjoying the music.
“I like Salem as the venue for the festival,” said Riley. “It has a very intimate feel and brings closer to everyone what Montserrat is all about. The goal is to bring people in and for us to enjoy our island.”
Riley said the festival had several signature events that can only get better and can form the basis for attracting visitors.
“The fishing tournament can bring people to Montserrat and we can create incentives package for boats to come over. The African Music Festival is another positive move and we need to work on establishing the sporting components of basketball, cricket and football, so they can be iconic features of the week,” Riley added.
He commended the organisers of the various events including Sunday night’s Jr. Calypso competition which saw 13-year-old Khari Irish crowned as the monarch. Backed up by the Small Beginnings Orchestra, 12 young calypsonians competed in the 14th annual event organised by the Montserrat Union of Teachers to a packed Salem Park.
Riley said his team will be conducting a post event analysis to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the event and to build on the elements which can improve visitor attraction and increase local appeal.
The culmination on Monday, March 18, with the slave feast was highlighted with the recreated slave village, lots to eat and drink and performances from the Volpanics Steel Band, the Emerald Shamiole Masquerades, some veteran masqueraders and a live band featuring Riley on bass.
Images from St Patrick’s Week may be viewed on the Facebook page Spirit of Montserrat: www.facebook.com/mnispirit