A resounding success! That’s how Consul General in Toronto Sonia Marville-Carter has described the recently concluded Barbados on the Water Festival held at Harbourfront Centre last weekend.
In an exclusive interview with Bajan Vibes, the diplomat said the annual event which showcases all things Bajan had received rave reviews from the patrons, the media and even those here in Barbados who took in the activities via social media.
“It was awesome, it was phenomenal. It was a really, really great festival. It was very well organised. I must give 1000 per cent to the BTMI [Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc] crew led by director of BTMI Canada Peter Mayers.”
The most heartening thing for the producers of the event is that the positive feedback from patrons has been overwhelming.
“The feedback that we’ve been getting is that people have been saying that it was better. People spoke about the food. There seemed to be more food choices and food vendors there. We are hearing that it was bigger and better than last year.”
The envoy continued: “So many people said they were following the posts on Facebook from the official pages and individuals alike. I am very pleased with the media coverage the festival got in Toronto. This year [there was] an increase in the social media push. Technology has advanced since last year and social media is a lot bigger than it was. So where you would have had to depend on the traditional media to push it, you didn’t have to. Now, it’s a case where everybody else has a phone in their hand and everyone is recording …”
The event showcased elements of Barbados in categories including culinary, music, theatre, fashion, arts and craft, wellness experiences and kids activities. The theme was Wellness and Soft Adventure, which is also the theme of BTMI this year.
Taking in the weekend’s festivities were: Ministry of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds, High Commissioner to Canada Reginald Farley, Chief Executive Officer of BTMI William Billy Griffith, Chair of BTMI Sunil Chatrani, Permanent Representative of Barbados to the UN Liz Thompson, Petra Roach from BTMI New York and Cheryl Carter from BTMI UK.
For the first time, a media briefing was held prior to the event.
“On the Friday, hours before the festival started, there was a media briefing. The media got to tour and see the décor. They also got to speak to Minister Kerrie Symmonds who had come in for the festival [and stayed only] on Friday. They got to interact with him and he told them a bit about what’s happening in the market for tourism. Both the media and travel partners were there. They were treated to beverages by mixologist Philp Antoine…” Marville-Carter said.
Local production Laff It Off was a huge hit too having been staged before a sold-out audience Saturday night. Friday night, before the play, there was spoken word by veteran Winston Farrell and Saturday night saw a performance from award-winning artiste Adrian Green before the show.
Some artistes, fresh from Crop Over, were also at the three-day festival to entertain the crowd. The Consul General said the entertainers pulled out all the stops.
“The entertainment was top drawer. Everybody was in fine tune and fine voice. During the finale, there was waving of the national flag as Nathalee closed off with Colours. All the artistes were pushing next year’s We Gatherin’ 2020… This was a very good platform for that. This was a huge launching pad… I even got Biggie Irie to change the lyrics of his song Nah Going Home to “We are going home when 2020 come…”
First-timer to Canada and the festival, Faith told Bajan Vibes she hopes what patrons experienced was enough to encourage them to come home for 2020. “Being able to represent Barbados and to sing for Canadians and Bajans was a great feeling. The love and energy were amazing. It was a very responsive crowd.”
Hypasounds said it was his second year, but this year was certainly better.
“This year we had a much bigger crowd than last year. People came out in numbers and patronised the events every night. It is always a great feeling to know that I was chosen to be part of the cast to represent the country, to spread the word about Barbados and to encourage people to come home for 2020…” he told Bajan Vibes. (IMC)