From early morning, forecasters warned of thunderstorms in Las Cuevas and it seems that show host Richard Forteau, Pan Trinbago secretary, was correct when he said "God loves pan." Rain fell from about 6 pm but it was intermittent.
Despite the weather, an extremely large crowd was on hand at Pan in De Countryside, staged by Pan Trinbago Inc, in conjunction with the Ministry of Community Development, Culture & the Arts at the spacious Las Cuevas On The Greens.
Some say it was the largest crowd to attend one of these events, one which also included an excursion from Point Fortin of 25 pan lovers. They have attended every edition of Pan in De Countryside, including those staged in Tobago.
Minister of Community Development, Culture & the Arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly was an early attendee to Saturday's event and was seen trudging through the rain as the VIP reserved tent was overtaken by patrons seeking shelter. The minister and her entourage were seen standing in the rain looking at the performance by Red Hill D'Abadie Parks Foundation Limbo dance troupe at 7.30 pm.
Also present on Saturday were director of Community Development Susan Corbett, Community Development accounting executive Carol Ann Forde, Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz, past Pan Trinbago officials including Owen Serrette, Dr Finbar Fletcher and Keith Byer. Jamaat-al-Muslimeen iman Yasin Abu Bakr also attended with the Jamaat steelband, Western Stars Philharmonics.
On Saturday, Pan Jammers of Santa Cruz was the first steelband to perform, followed by Maracas community band North Coast Serenaders, which thrilled with its set of retro selections.
Residents of Las Cuevas, Maracas, Blanchissuese, La Fillette and environs turned up in their numbers to welcome the convoys of visitors making the trek to the scenic North Coast. Many farmers, chefs, and clothing, handicraft and confectionary merchants made a brisk trade selling provision, delicious fish meals, homemade delicacies like farine biscuits, pone, seamoss and beetroot punches.
North Coast Empowerment Group, based at Blanchisseuse Secondary School, was one of the groups selling food and merchandise. Its president Gemma Thomas told Pulse: "We are three years old and our primary purpose is to empower the residents of our community. Our group consists of five sub committees and among our projects is the thrust to try and get internet accessibility to the North Coast which is now limited. We are also trying to enhance farming, do parent training and have introduced a Maringa Project to enhance farming. We are also in the process of generating a community farm."
Reigning National Panorama Single Pan champion Trinidad East Side pleasantly surprised all in attendance with its performance. The Malick, Barataria steelband augmented its pans with horns, violin, bass and vocals. Its guest performers were parang queen Alicia Jaggasar of Los Alumnos de San Juan who sang La Vida es un Carnival, violinist Inge Schluer, trumpeter Rellon Brown and trombonists Josef Ward and Joshua Pasqual.
Showered with compliments from appreciative patrons, East Side Symphony captain Carlon Harewood told Pulse: "Every time East Side performs it must bring something different to entertain patrons. Pan is a lot more than just Panorama and pan. The stuff you can fuse the national instrument is limitless."
Western Stars Philharmonics was also very entertaining, especially with its retro items like Sparrow's Lizard and Shadow's Alien. However the band's pierce de resistance was the solo performance by its arranger Len "Boogsie" Sharpe of Wood in the Fire. San Fernando's NLCB Fonclaire was also at the top of its game and seized the opportunity on Saturday to present special awards to veteran pan people.
Woodbrook's CAL Invaders played with flair, pizzazz and gusto and impressed with its tribute to 2016 National Panorama (Large) champion Desperadoes, playing a collection of Desperadoes' winning Panorama tunes of yesteryear.
Continuing to impress with its discipline and ability to harness the energy of its young musicians, First Citizens Supernovas offered a delectable serving of panmanship and music. With a full moon overhead, its medley of oldies, included 10,000 Frenchmen Du Du Yemi, Statue, Soca Baptist and Fete, giving the crowd a perfect send off just after 10 pm. But, with shouts of "we want more," and people seeming reluctant to leave, Supernovas obliged with a lagniappe of Swallow's Doh Stop dis Party.
A date has not been set for the next edition of Pan in de Countryside, but the tentative venue is Pointe-a-Pierre.
Steelbands vie in ComPANions Family Day
Spearheaded by Julie Williams of Republic Bank Exodus and Denise Hernandez of Massy Trinidad All Stars, ComPANions Steelbands Sports & Family Day will be held on Sunday. Featuring steelbands in non-music competition, among the band to have made it to the finals are Exodus, Desperadoes, First Citizens Supernovas, MHTL Starlift, T&T Defence Force, CAL Invaders, Trinidad All Stars, Diatonics, Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille, Tropical Angel Harps, Modernaires, Claytones and Belmont 5th Dimension.
Two of the attractions on the day will be the Dance By and the Scavenger Hunt. Three 2016 champions have already have been crowned, among them First Citizens Supernovas, the Six-a� Side cricket champion, and winner of the Michael Lawrence Beharrysingh Challenge Trophy. Sunday's day of fun, expected to begin at 10 am, will be held at Contantine Park, Tunapuna.