Ready for the Road

Four bands stake their carnival claim

BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter

Sunday, April 23, 2017    

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Revellers are ‘ready for road’ as today marks the first time that four bands take to the streets of Kingston in celebration of carnival.

The much-anticipated event has not only drawn the attention of at least an additional 200 international guests, but is one that has the four groups operating in carnival — Bacchanal Jamaica, Byron Lee’s Jamaica Carnival, as well as newcomers Xodus and Xaymaca – bringing their ‘A’ game.

“I think one should ask how they plan to compete with Bacchanal,” director of Bacchanal Jamaica, Michael Ammar Jr, said in response to Jamaica Observer queries about how the carnival band which has been operating for more than a decade plans to hold its share of the market.

“Bacchanal is the premier road march band, we set the standard, and everybody else has to step up. Until they put on a road march, then we have nothing to compare it to. I can guarantee that our customers are going to get a premium experience on the road. We are already rated the second best carnival in the Caribbean, so we know what we are doing,” he reasoned.

This year marks the 29th year that carnival is being celebrated in Jamaica after being introduced to Jamaicans by a group of carnival loving revellers from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.

The Government of Jamaica has fully supported the initiative of the four players coming together this year to celebrate the brand – Carnival in Jamaica – aimed at galvanising the industry. The Government reckons that this year’s staging will help to improve carnival experience in Jamaica and will market Jamaica as the destination for the calendar event.

The bigger staging should also prove beneficial to carnival lovers through reduced costume prices and premium experiences as the bands strive to establish themselves as the main feature of the island’s carnival bands.

One of the newest entrants, Scott Dunn, managing director of Dream Entertainment’s Xodus Carnival, believes his band already has roughly 40 per cent of the carnival market. Dunn told the

Sunday Finance that he is ‘ready’ for the day’s event and aims to make the Xodus Carnival brand synonymous with that of Dream Weekend.

“We will continue to market and plan this event all year round similar to the approach we take with Dream Weekend. We know it’s only going to grow strength to strength and one day we will have those tremendous numbers like Dream Weekend,” he said.

Like Bachannal Jamaica, Xodus is placing more premium products in the bar including the Johnny Walker and Hennessey brands.

For the first time, Bacchanal will have the Caribbean Airlines Invaders Steel Orchestra on the local carnival scene.

Meanwhile Jamaica Carnival will make-over Byron Lee and The Dragonaries’ timeless soca classics such as Tiney Winey, Dance Hall Soca and

Soca Butterfly for this carnival season.

Additionally, Xaymaca Carnival promises to bring something different that encapsulates the beauty of Jamaica.

“The idea is to make it the most fun-filled event for Bacchanal. People have paid their money to have the time of their lives and that’s what we are going to give them,” Ammar Jr said.

He added that the Government’s expectation for increased international attention from the staging of today’s event could be based on the growth in numbers from last year’s Bacchanal Carnival.

“I’m seeing at least 50 per cent foreigners this year and every hotel in Kingston is full and close to full occupancy in Ocho Rios…it’s a ton load of foreigners and these are hundreds of people, not a couple; lots of women most of whom are North Americans that seem to have Caribbean roots,” he told the

Sunday Finance. According to Ammar Jnr, the increase in revellers has not only positively impacted carnival numbers but has also spilled over to other parties including Frenchmen, Beach J’ouvert and I Love Soca.

“That’s good because we were thinking that there were not enough people to fill these parties and so far we’ve been wrong — luckily,” he said.

He is now urging the Government and other carnival groups to continue giving revellers the quality product that they have been accustomed to over the last 28 years, in a safe and economically valuable way.

“Jamaica has the opportunity to be the best if we do it properly. It can only grow because Trinidad has priced itself out of the market.”





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