Judging by the large turnout last weekend, Afrofest remains one of the city’s most popular summer festivals and the thousands that attended were quite happy to be jumping up and enjoying the musical vibes at Queen’s Park.
Earlier this year, the city threatened to pull the plug on the venue, citing the stress being placed on the park during the two-day event.
Festival organizers and the city struck a deal at the last minute allowing Afrofest to be held one last time at the park which has been the festival venue for the last 18 years.
Afrofest board member and publicity coordinator Alistair Wentworth told Share they will be pushing hard to be back at Queen’s Park next year.
“We got the permit this year ultimately because supporters of the festival made their voices heard,” he said. “Going forward, I hope we will remain here because I think this is the best venue in the city for the event when you look at the alternatives.
“I also think that the argument that the city put forward why we shouldn’t have the event here does not hold up to scrutiny. It’s true that we put some stress on the park, but that can be easily minimized. It’s not as big a deal as the city makes it because a park is a resilient venue. If it comes to a head next year, as I think it might but I hope it doesn’t, we will be more committed and organized and if the Board decides, we will put up a fight.”
The two-day cultural festival attracted many diverse groups and acts, including debutants Symphonyx Steel Orchestra.
“We were approached at the Muhtadi Drumming Festival and asked if we would like to play here and I jumped at the opportunity because it provides us with a chance to showcase our young people and their talent,” said bandleader Delano Thomas.
The mainly all-female band has been in existence for the past six years and the majority of the members are from the St. Jamestown community. The ages range from 15-21.
“We teach them just not steelpan, but the history of the instrument which requires discipline,” said Thomas who attended Queen’s Royal College in Trinidad and is a life member of Starlift Steel Orchestra. “This is an outlet for them to be occupied and several have gone on to university.”
This year’s festival also attracted South African band Dizu Plaatjies & Iduyambo and Zimbabwean singer Thomas Mapfumo who was making his third appearance at the festival.