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Union Island’s Soca Fest in danger of being wiped out – Whyte

Union Island’s Soca Fest in danger of being wiped out – Whyte

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Soca fest is the premier event for the Union Island Easterval but with private promoters hosting shows on the same date, the executive body for the festival is concerned that, this move may lead to the “crippling” of the festival.{{more}}

Chairman of the Union Island Easterval Abdon Whyte shared this concern with SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday after learning that, for the second consecutive year, a wet fete will be held on the same date of the “highly anticipated” Soca Fest.

Whyte revealed that last year’s Soca Fest was a “big loss” due to the hosting of the other event.

The Easterval Chairman also informed that this year the committee made the decision to change the date of the event, only to learn that the promoters of the other event changed their date to the same as the Soca Fest.

“I wrote a letter to the Director of Culture to ask for permission for the festival and in that letter we highlighted that concern, in terms of giving private promoters the permission to host shows over the Easter weekend,” Whyte revealed.

“However, permission was still given although they say they didn’t get our information… but based on investigations we found out that the wet fete was given permission to go up until 11 p.m. and our show starts at 9 p.m.

“I just hope it doesn’t affect us again this year,” he added.

The Easterval Committee Soca Fest is held at the Ashton hard court while the wet fete is a walking distance at Just Right bar.

“It’s like the Soca Fest is at the central police station in Kingstown and the wet fete is at little Tokyo. That’s how close the events are. So you see the conflict there?” Whyte asked.

Soca Fest without a doubt is the most anticipated event on the Easterval calendar of activities, according to Whyte.

This year’s show, which is schedule to take place on Saturday at the Ashton Sports Complex, will feature internationally renowned band Burning Flames out of Antigua.

When asked about his views on the situation, Whyte said he is “very disappointed.”

“We see it as being very disrespectful due to the fact that we have been organizing this show for over 20 years…

“We spend thousands of dollars in promoting the festival. Every single member of the committee volunteers time and service and if at the end of the day we do not make a profit, persons look to members of the committee — they do not look at it as the Easterval committee; they look to individual of the committee to pay them their money.”

Whyte however noted that they are not against private promoters hosting their events.

He said the Easterval committee has requested that the weekend be reserve for them as that’s the only time there is a fee to attend events.

“Every other event is free up until the weekend and that’s when we make the money to pay bills and plan for next year’s festival.

“All we are saying is if you are giving permission to host another event the same date, contact us. They know we are hosting the festival and to give permission to somebody to host something the same time right next door to us, that is conflicting with our event,” he further stated.

Meanwhile, promoter for the wet fete, Ken James, is of the opinion that his event “helps to boost the festivity and not as they say, take away from it.”

James, a former Chairman of the Easterval committee and executive member said the wet fete show has been in existence for the past three years and this is the first time he’s been made aware that there is a “conflict.”

“It is funny enough that a journalist can call me and tell me about that and the Easterval executive has not contacted me to do that, but rather take a position to try and crush me…

“As far as I know, me and them brethrens have absolutely no problem. So it’s real heart-breaking for you, a journalist, calling me and none of those guys coming to me and at least say if they have a problem and let’s see how we can try and work it out,” a shocked James stated.

The former chairman said he is opened to dialog with the committee if there is indeed a “conflict” with the hosting of the events on the same date.

“I’m saying clearly, we don’t have a problem when it comes down to man to man. So it is funny enough that they can hit the media and everywhere else or rather try to crush me without having a dialog,” James said.

“I am the past president and that shows some weakness in the leadership, because the first thing they should have tried to do is to see how we can dialog about this and show me how it is affecting them and then we can move from there,” he added.

James went further to explain that he seeks permission to host the wet fete from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. to accommodate the Easterval’s Soca Fest.

“From my knowledge and experience as a past president, the Soca Fest doesn’t ever start before 11 o’clock,” according to James.

With regards to the changing of the date this year, James disclosed that this move was to accommodate the Miss Easterval Pageant.

The promoter said if he were to host his event on the same night because of the close proximity, the music will affect the Miss Easterval Pageant.

“The pageant starts around 8:30 p.m. and this is a sit down show that is attended by persons of all ages…

“If I host the show on the night or any night of the queen show, then I will be running straight competition and I’ll be affecting them, which I don’t want to do. But, because I am confident that the wet fete can co-exist together that is why we are having it on the same date.”

James said he is a strong supporter of the Easterval festivities and will not do anything to harm any of the events. He is however disappointed that no dialog was made to try and rectify the situation.

The slogan for this year’s festival is “Our Heritage Our Festival, Union Island Easterval”.

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