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Masqueraders parade through the streets of Kingstown during Mardi Gras.
Masqueraders parade through the streets of Kingstown during Mardi Gras.

KINGSTOWN, S. Vincent: – Masqueraders and revellers joined together early Tuesday night to dance in the streets as Vincy Mas, this country’s premiere festival, entered into its final hours.

From midday Tuesday, 12 costume bands began crossing the stage at “Carnival City”, Vitoria Park in Kingstown, for their first assessment in the Band of the Year competition.

The top band will receive EC$23, 000 (approx. US$8, 5000).

In addition to the results of that competition, the Carnival Development Corporation will also on Wednesday announce the Road March winner, the most popular song among bands during Mardi Gras.

On Tuesday, bands paraded through the city for judging at various spots. Band security and police kept a watchful eye to prevent spectators and revellers from invading the bands during the judging period.

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However, as darkness fell and the judging was completed, masqueraders removed their headdresses and other parts of their costumes and spectators joined in, dancing around Kingstown, making use of the time before 10 p.m., when all outdoor music must cease.

Vincentians and foreigners alike joined in the masquerades and general festivities on Tuesday.

Anthony Theobalds, a Cultural Officer here, masqueraded with SVG Players International Tuesday afternoon.

“All [of the presentations] look strong and there has been a general improvement. You can’t really distinguish small

Facial expression told the whole story.
Facial expression told the whole story.

bands from big bands by the quality of the production. They are all getting better and better,” he told I Witness-News.

Vincentian calypsonian Errol “The Man Age” Rose said that while some bands had tried to create costumes with feature that were different from previous years’, there was a repeat of the colours used.

“But otherwise, I think they are trying to improve the standard every year, but they keep repeating certain things.”

Trinidadian couple Cheryl and Astin Allen have been coming to Vincy Mas for the past eight years.

Mrs. Allen felt that Vincy Mas was on the decline.

“Carnival for me, I think, is kind of like dying because we used to come here and we used to have a really good time. Yesterday we only saw like three t-shirt bands and today, the [masquerade] started too late. Carnival is two days of fun…”

Both she and her husband felt that the economic downturn was affecting the festival.

“… We are accustomed to seeing much more people on the road — vendors, people supporting, buying — this year it’s a little different,” she said.

“I have not seen much of the crowd, I don’t know if it is because of the turn down of the economy but in previous years you will see a lot more people coming out to the festival. This year the band is okay but the spectator, I don’t know where they are,” Mr. Allen said.

He however said that he enjoyed the festival “tremendously”.

“That is what we come for. It is stress relieving,” he said.

Barbadian national Patricia Forde was witnessing Vincy Mas for the first time although she had visited St. Vincent several times.

“It is different [in that] you don’t have people jumping in the queues when you line up in the street. Barbados is more hype and drunk … this is more controlled and cool and calm.”

Sharika Clarke, who is also from Barbados, paraded with Singer Links mas band. It was her first time at Vincy Mas and she said that she had had so much fun that she would come back.

Visitor Simon Marsh photographs a section of the parade.
Visitor Simon Marsh photographs a section of the parade.

Briton Simon Marsh, the other member of his crew, and the 13 guests of the MV Wind Dancer were in St. Vincent “just from Vincy Mas”.

While Marsh had done a lot of diving around St. Vincent, it was his first time in Kingstown. The group watched the masquerades from the roadside in Heritage Square.

It’s an amazing experience,” he told I Witness-News. “We are having a great time … enjoying the colour … music … the costumes and the people.

“I think it is wonderful, it’s colourful, it’s very happy,” said American Lisa Pernek, a guest on the MV Wind Dancer.

And although she had only been in the country for two hours she loved it.

“It would like to come back in the future. I love the costumes,” she said.

Japanese volunteer Sayaka Azuma was taking part in Vincy Mas for the first time. She arrived in St. Vincent nine months ago and said the festival was “fun”. She joined in the masquerade with SVG Players International mas band.

Another Japanese volunteer who did not want to be identified by name because she is a teacher said the festival was “very fascinating”.

She noted that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not an industrialised country and said it had a “good culture” that was progressing.

See more photos of Mardi Gras here.

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