Masquerade bandleaders who took part in last weekend’s keenly contested Junior Kadooment contest are up in arms after designer Kevin Small walked away with the coveted Best Junior Band award for his Fifth Element Kiddies band – Candy Land 246.
The 25-year-old edged out seasoned bandleaders Gwyneth Squires and Trevor Nicholls, who had to settle for second and third places respectively, despite capturing most of the category prizes.
Small’s Fifth Element, which had six sections and 221 young masqueraders, was adjudged Most Colourful band in the event, organized by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) as part of the annual Crop Over celebrations.
Squires’ larger band, which portrayed Kites At De Garrison Savannah, captured the Junior King and Best Flag Person awards, while Nicholls’ Young Spirit Community Group band – Colour Me Crop Over — captured the Community Costume, Fantasy and BMA Brands of Barbados awards. He also placed second in the Environmental category.
Budding bandleader Sanka Price captured the Topical, Historical and Folklore awards with his Blackbird Productions band – A Living Legend and His Music – A Tribute to the Mighty Gabby.
However, Squires questioned how the judges arrived at the winner, while suggesting that Nicholls should have been awarded the prize for Best Junior Band.
“We want to know how they judge the categories,” said Squires, who took a break from preparing her Grand Kadooment costumes Monday to speak with Barbados TODAY about her Kiddies’ Kadooment concerns.
Promising to challenge the decision in court if necessary, Squires argued that year on year the NCF was “not picking the right judges”.
She claimed that during the pre-judging only two judges previewed her costumes and the others “bypassed” her.
“I want to find out who did best band, who did the judging of the couples and individuals because . . . there are judges that don’t know anything,” contended veteran bandleader who has been involved in the Kiddies Kadooment for three decades.
“If you can draw, that don’t signify that you have ideas of judging a band or judging a costume . . . There are people that know about costuming that they [the NCF] did not pick to be judges. I don’t know why.”
Meantime, calling for transparency and clarity in the judging, Nicholls told Barbados TODAY he was simply “confused”.
“I thought it was a point system where the person with the most points would end up being Band of the Year . . . Not that I am upset, I am confused.
“I am trying to ask for clarity and transparency into seeing what happen and how it really should go. We should all know how it is done and how it is judged as far as Band of the Year is concerned. I am at a loss,” he said, adding that many patrons also were annoyed at the Kiddies Kadooment result.
“The whole long and short of the story is that you do not want to deter people to not come back or to drop out of the competition . . . [but] when things like this happen and you don’t understand or you are confused like me, you either do one of two things – you stay and take it, or you drop out and move on,” said Nicholls, who is in his eighth year of the competition.
After winning in 2011, he placed in the top three for seven years.
However, emphasizing that he was not a judge, Small told Barbados TODAY he was disappointed with the position taken by the bandleaders, given that in the past he had walked away with more awards than others who had won the competition.
“I don’t judge myself, I am a participant in the competition. None of us is sure what the judges are looking for at any given time. For me, I gave it my best, I came out and delivered a fantastic presentation in my eyes and the people looking on enjoyed it totally and I achieved a goal.
“I am a little disappointed in my fellow bandleaders because there have been years gone by when I would have been placed second and I would have probably walked away with a few more prizes than the person who would have walked away the winner, and I for sure did not keep any noise,” he stressed.
Small, who is now enjoying his third win in four years, has been participating in the competition for the past 11 years.
Meanwhile, Price is suggesting that the NCF defuses the situation by explaining how it arrives at a winner.
“I am sure the judges would have a good reason for doing what they did. So maybe they could just enlighten all the bandleaders so that this controversy would be put to rest,” he told Barbados TODAY.
And President of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders (BAM) Chetwyn Stewart, who was made aware of the situation after he returned to the island on Sunday, told Barbados TODAY a meeting would be held this week to discuss the concerns.
“We are going to have a meeting on it because apparently it is . . . a problem, but there are rules to be followed so the first thing is to investigate the rules and see the points system. If it is a point system you have to show us the points.
“To me it should be straightforward. If you have X amount of points you win, if you don’t have X amounts of points you don’t win, and how do you get X amount of points,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Chief Executive Officer of the NCF were unsuccessful.
The issue is the latest one to affect this year’s staging of the Crop Over festival, which has encountered a number of setbacks, ranging from bands pulling out due to the prevailing economic conditions, to at least one singer releasing a song that had already been recorded two years ago.
In May BAM had also threatened that unless the NCF made good on promises to raise subvention to bandleaders or provide an increase in prize money, it could be faced with protest on Grand Kadooment Day, which is next Monday.
Shortly thereafter, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley announced that BAM would receive a $50,000 increase in subvention, and would vie for $30,000 more in prize money.