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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Exporting the Greatest Show on Earth......

The growing trend of reusing Trinidad Carnival’s costumes in Carnivals internationally and regionally has got me thinking; thus far Island People’s costumes will be available in Antigua, Pulse 8’s for D.C. Carnival, Wee International for Orlando and Ronnie & Caro for St Lucia Carnival. With the accessibility of Trinidad’s costumes and, in the case of Antigua, on road all inclusive amenities, will it eventually become unnecessary for foreigners to make the trip to Trinidad Carnival as they can get the same experience at home without forking out top dollar?

If you were not one of the enterprising persons to book your ticket to Trinidad for Carnival 2009 early, expect to pay in excess of $500.00 depending on the destination you are coming from. I know that flights from London are particularly expensive at that time of year, even on the charters. Unbelievably regional travel between islands are now pricing at more than an international destination, thus making it even more expensive to visit Trinidad coming from the neighboring islands such as St Lucia and Antigua.

Trinidad is feeling the economic global crunch with rice and flour shortages, higher prices for food, electricity rates and real estate; rental. The inflation rate is projected to hit double digits before the end of 2008, masqueraders and Carnival enthusiasts can expect the costs to increase yet again for accommodation, costumes and fetes as prices keep rising. In 2008 masqueraders and Carnival lovers making the trip to Trinidad for Carnival easily spent in excess of $3000.00US for accommodation, airfare, costumes and fetes. How much will this figure be for 2009?

Will there come a time when masqueraders and Carnival lovers who have been making the trip to Trinidad annually, simply cannot afford to do so? This scenario seems even more of a possibility as costumes and amenities from Trinidad’s Carnival are being exported; if you as a foreign masquerader can get the same costumes and same all inclusive on road experience at home, why bother to make the trip to Trinidad? Maybe it will not be necessary to visit every year, skip one year of Trinidad’s Carnival and you can get a costume from that year showing up in Orlando or Labor Day Carnival for much less, right?

It used to be that Trinidad’s Carnival was “unique”, the “greatest show on Earth”, but it disturbs me when our “experience”, of which we pay a high cost for, is being transplanted to other islands and countries for much less! While it may seem unreasonable to compare say Antigua’s Carnival with Trinidad’s, surely one can see that with the new band “Myst” Antigua is moving forward to offering an experience that is as close to Trinidad’s as one can get. First our fetes made the migration, events associated with Trinidad’s Carnival such as Glo, Insomnia, UWI Fete and Brian Lara’s all inclusive can be enjoyed in countries from Barbados to Miami. Now our costumes AND all inclusive on the road experience is making the migration as well!

To me there is nothing wrong with tapping into Trinidad’s talent and expertise for making unique costumes which will be used in Carnivals globally; this is already a business for bands such as Harts and Legacy who produce costumes for Carnivals all over the world. However, selling costumes wholesale AS IS from Carnival presentations of the same year is really a slap in the face to all masqueraders who thought they were paying for a unique experience that they could have only gotten in Trinidad. I fear that in the near future the large foreign contingent that mas bands and fete promoters depend on to pay the higher prices that the average Trinidadian cannot, will start dwindling in numbers as the greatest show on earth turns into the greatest * “pappy show” on Earth.

* pappy show To call someone or something a pappyshow is a. form of mockery and derision


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