by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The long anticipated Prize Giving Ceremony for the 2021 National Carnival “Sugar Mas 50” was held on Saturday night, February 26 2022 at the Marriott Ballroom.
In the midst of the pandemic and the sudden outbreak of the Fourth wave of Covid-19, the National Carnival Committee showed true resilience and innovation. Whilst all other Carnival celebrations in the region were cancelled, the St. Kitts- Nevis National Carnival was held.
During her presentation, Chair of the National Carnival Committee, Ms.Shannon Hawley shared an overview of the 2021 Carnival season celebration.
59:06- 59:42 “Over the past two years, we have significantly grown our St.Kitts- Nevis National Carnival brand as a business, despite the pandemic. In September 2021, we hosted the first set of streamed events for the 50th Anniversary celebrations; the Royal Reveal of our National Carnival Queen Pageant Contestants; that was six months ago, wow! It was followed by the reveal of the swimsuit contestants. These highly anticipated reveals set the bar very high for the Carnival season.”
Highlighted on the Calendar of Activities for Sugar Mas 50 were other new activities; such as the first ever National Carnival Song Competition, the National Carnival Queen Runway Challenge and Bubble Jouvert. With the subtraction of some of the usual Carnival activities in 2020, we saw the re-introduction of the National Carnival Queen and Swimwear Pageants and Soca Monarch Competition.
Events that were introduced for the first time for Carnival 2020 were hosted again in 2021. These include the Creative Arts Competition, Sugarscope Photography Competition and Icons Road March Edition.The Carnival Committee also commenced the second annual Calypso Tent Virtual Series. According to Hawley, the Carnival Committee’s intention in 2022 is to work closely with Tent leaders to ensure that the traditional Calypso Tents return and are launched early September.
Despite the challenges posed by the Pandemic, the Carnival Chair outlined some of the successes of Sugar Mas 50.
The Committee was also able to increase prize monies for a number of competitions which were held for the 50th anniversary; such as Panorama, the Senior Calypso Monarch, Soca Monarch and the National Carnival Queen Pageant.”
Hawley added ” Our series of events that were streamed live this year attracted over a half million viewers- 500 000 viewers on Social Media. Bubble Jouvert alone attracted close to 200 000 viewers globally. We were also able to attract a significant paying audience via our Pay Per View Network for the finals of the National Carnival Queen Pageant, Swimsuit Pageant and Senior Calypso Monarch Competition. Our revenue for the National Carnival Queen Pageant for the 50th Anniversary based on our online and in person paying audience was able to exceed the revenue of the 2019 Queen Show pre- pandemic; so thank you very much for your support.”
The St. Kitts- Nevis National Carnival Committee was placed in the spotlight with the successful hosting of Sugar Mas 50 and captured the attention of other Carnival Committees and stakeholders across the region.
In 2021, all regional Carnivals as you know, were cancelled, yet the St.Kitts and Nevis National Carnival continued its growth for the second year during the pandemic and all eyes around the region were on us,” said Hawley. ” I recently presented to the Grenada National Carnival Committee and other Carnival Committees and stakeholders from around the region and internationally, have been in contact with us for guidance, advice and collaborative opportunities. This for us as the Carnival Committee is a big deal and we feel that we have again accomplished our mission.”
Hawley revealed that preparations for the National Carnival’s 51st anniversary has commenced; hoping that Carnival will return fully, with the pageants, competitions, private events and road events, such as Jouvert, Last Lap, the Grand Parade and Children’s Carnival.
The Carnival Chair disclosed that over the next four to six weeks, the committee will engage the troupe leaders, calypsonians, entertainers, band leaders and event promoters to discuss the way forward for Sugar Mas 51. According to Hawley, the intention of the committee is to host a series of workshops to ensure that all Carnival stakeholders are properly trained and certified in their respective areas. The workshops will be hosted for judges, chaperones, costume builders, calypsonians and Soca artistes etc.
The regional marketing activities for Carnival 50 will commence in the second quarter of 2022. Hawley said this is to ensure that Carnival lovers elsewhere become just as excited as the local Carnival enthusiasts.
Chair of the committee, Ms Shannon Hawley expressed gratitude to those who made Sugar Mas 50 possible.
“First off, on behalf of the Committee, I wish to record my sincerest thanks and appreciation to Minister Powell and the Federal Government of St.Kitts and Nevis for ensuring that over 1.5 million dollars was subsidised and paid out to well over 200 stakeholders, for this past National Carnival, who competed in various competitions for the 50th Anniversary. All of these individuals collectively assisted us to reach our goal of ensuring a quality Carnival product for Carnival lovers locally, regionally and internationally to enjoy.”
Hawley also expressed gratitude to the individuals who entertained and participated in Sugar Mas 50, whether live or virtually. In addition, she extended appreciation to the sponsors; the Development Bank of St.Kitts and Nevis, St Kitts- Nevis- Anguilla National Bank, National Caribbean Insurance, Carib Brewery St.Kitts Limited, The Cable, ZIZ, Next Generation Lab, Royal St. Kitts Hotel and the St. Kitts Marriott Resort; for coming onboard despite the economic challenges and supporting the Committee’s vision.
Hawley took the opportunity to congratulate all the participants and winners of the various competitions for Sugar Mas 50, who received their prizes on Saturday night. In regards to the Sugar Mas 50 Awards Ceremony, Hawley said the event will take place prior to the 2022 National Carnival celebration, Sugar Mas 51.