It’s the calm after the storm. Months of frenetic mas’ camp activity and enthusiasm has given way to an eerie silence in a place once buzzing with carnival fever as Marcus Eustace and Bryce Aguiton – two of the architects behind Carnival Nationz which made history this year by regaining the Band of the Year title and sweeping the King & Queen of the Bands competition last Thursday at Lamport Stadium – reflected on another Toronto carnival season.
With bits and pieces of costumes and equipment all around them and King of the Band winner Mungal in a corner cleaning up when Share visited on Monday, Eustace and Aguiton are assessing their work this year and looking ahead to 2012 and what they could do to surpass their record-breaking performance.
“Of course, we are happy with the way things went this year, but that doesn’t mean we cannot look back at some of the issues we had this season and peak ahead to next year,” said Eustace whose late father Tedder Eustace was a three-time Trinidad & Tobago Dimanche Gras competition winner.
Eustace says it’s becoming more time consuming and costly to produce bands. He said this year’s production cost almost $500,000. The eight “A” bands each received about $35,600 in government funding this year.
“It’s so much work that you ask yourself sometimes if it’s worth it,” he said. “After you win, you know you cannot walk away. However, there is no way I could come close to recuperating the money we put into it even though we have some sponsors. With the problems associated with the event over the years, we have encountered difficulty attracting sponsorship. We have to blame ourselves for that because the guys who were there before did what they wanted with the festival. They basically raped it and we are now paying for their indiscretions.”
Capturing the Band of the Year crown in its first year in 2005, Carnival Nationz now has four titles in seven years. This year’s theme was Mythical Creatures.
Eustace, who has produced winning Trinidad & Tobago Carnival costumes and is preparing to enter a band for a third straight year in October’s Miami Carnival that could attract up to 150 Toronto revellers, revealed that a volunteer in last year’s mas’ camp came up with the winning theme.
“She mentioned that it might be good for next year (2011),” he recalled. “I liked what I heard and we decided to go with it after consulting Bryce who was also happy with the name. When you hear dragon, unicorn and mermaid, I started to think about the things we could produce.”
Carnival Nationz won all four awards up for grabs in the King & Queen of the Bands show and also added the junior King of the Band title to its collection with Demeko Minott coming out on top in that category.
Shane Mungal, portraying Kind Hades, was crowned King in his first year with his new band after switching from Tribal Knights. Anthony Harry of Callaloo and Dexter Seusahai of Tribal Knights were second and third respectively.
York University student Joella Crichton won her third Queen of the Band title, finishing ahead of Pat Horsham of Louis Saldenah’s Mas-K Club and Indra Harrilal of Callaloo. Crichton’s older sister, Mischka, who portrayed Medusa, captured the Female Individual award ahead of Carole Tannis of Louis Saldenah’s Mas-K Club and Caroline Gabriel of Callaloo.
Portraying Draconia, Mister Meggy secured the Male Individual title. Curtis Dempster of Louis Saldenah’s Mas-K Club and Ronnie Des Vignes of Blues Carnival Fusion were second and third respectively.
The 12-section band with some 2,400 revellers captured the attention of the judges and the thousands that lined the Lakeshore Blvd. parade route on Saturday when the Band of the Year title is decided. Last year’s winner, Louis Saldenah’s Mas-K Club, was the runner up followed by Jamaal Magloire’s Toronto Revellers.
Connections, led by former Trinidad & Tobago field hockey player, Mervyn Skeete, clinched the “small bands” title followed by Fantazia International.