Skinner Park in San Fernando was sparsely populated when Calypso Fiesta, the semifinal round of the National Calypso Monarch Competition kicked off in broiling hot sun at 12.20 pm yesterday. The National Anthem was played by house band Errol Ince Music Makers before a crowd comprised mainly of "posses," with members making colourful statements in hues of green, yellow, tangerine, red, blue and pink. Show host Wendell Etienne called on Brother D'Abreau to offer prayers before introducing guest artiste, veteran calypsonian Power (Sonny Francois) who offered Culture of Trinidad and Tobago and Ah Coming for which he received genuine applause.
First of the 40 competitors was Sheldon Nugget (Sheldon Bullen) doing Then We Will Rise. A noticeable feature of the accompanying band Music Makers was the number of "crackshot" musicians engaged, inclusive of Wayne Bruno, Leston Paul, "Sunshine" Diaz, Anthony Woodruffe, Pelham Goddard, Earl Caruth and Vonrick Maynard. The audience had grown considerably by the time second competitor Blaxx (Dexter Stewart) had taken the stage to deliver Good Time. And when Heather Mc Intosh did Keep It in third position, the Park was rapidly filling with patrons.
The "Mighty Midget" Cro Cro (Weston Rawlins) appeared in fourth position singing Compare and Contrast for which audience appreciation was expressed with calls for his return to the stage for an encore. However, such a request cannot be entertained in competition. Following submissions from Dilly Suede (Dillon Thomas) and Catherine Williams, another former Calypso Monarch Sugar Aloes (Michael Osuna) was able to generate positive audience reaction to his selection Not One Word. It was, however, Daz (Winston Noel) who had the audience laughing uproariously to the rib-tickling composition Fork In Napkin. By 3.30 pm 18 of the 40 contestants had appeared on stage, and Skinner park was on the verge of bursting at its seams.