Now that in-person activities are back on stream, Great Fete Weekend is one event gearing up to reopen with a bang. The “longest weekend in the world” promises a six-day “Rebirth” in the sister isle from July 27 to August 1 that will be “epic.” Re-energising the entertainment industry starting with home-grown talent is the focus, organisers say.
Organisers have kept it in the region this year, looking to Jamaica for headliners.
Season passes for the Weekend went on sale two Fridays ago (May 13) and Skillibeng (Emwah Warmington) out of Jamaica was one of the feature artistes in the line-up expected to be revealed last Friday. As for the names of the other headline acts, Great Fete is simply teasing: look out for S³ or three S’s and use your imagination. Organisers will drop more names in the build-up to the event.
According to Adanna Asson PRO for Great Fete, patrons and artistes are looking forward to being back on the sand and up to the closing date on May 14, vendors were requesting spots like never before.
With its main venue Pigeon Point beach, Great Fete is a much-anticipated affair in the entertainment world, attracting crowds of over 10,000. Many mark off their calendars to be part of the massive weekend fest, a sort of spinoff of the Great Race lime where crowds would converge on Store Bay to receive the winner of one of the world’s longest-running offshore powerboat races. The annual event boasts the crème de la crème on the DJ, soca, hip hop and dancehall circuit from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, the USA and the region at large. Great Fete celebrated its 20-year milestone in 2019, its last edition before the pandemic closed the curtain on in-person entertainment events.
Patrons enjoy themselves at Great Fete weekend 2019.
The “Rebirth” begins on July 27 with Welcome Wednesday, and continues on Reggae Thursday, to Soca Glow: A Tribute to Blaxx–Paint, Powder, Water on Friday, July 29 through the main event, We Fete on Saturday, July 30. Sunday Callaloo on July 31 is free to the public and will feature a J’Ouvert procession complete with a big truck into Pigeon Point where the partying continues, and Cool Down on Monday, August 1, with added attractions from the motor industry, will wrap up the weekend’s events.
Asson said this year, Great Fete is placing emphasis on local acts and has added features such as the Cool Down Monday which was introduced in 2019 and held at No Man’s Land and whose 2022 beach venue is yet-to-be-announced. Venues for the list of events have also been spread across Tobago so that other parts of the island gain exposure and benefit financially from the influx of visitors for the weekend.
She said Great Fete recognised its social responsibility and strives to continuously provide opportunities for talented entertainers and service providers of Trinidad and Tobago to earn and ply their craft, and part of that responsibility was to showcase local artistes since they were out of an income for so long. She said the organisers also felt that after resounding reviews for an all T&T cast of entertainers for 2019’s Reggae Night, the public deserved another electrifying dose of T&T-only artistes.
“It (Reggae Night 2019) was so invigorating. People were so excited about it. When contacted recently, even the acts were excited to be considered to be able to share their talents in the Great Fete space,” Asson, who herself graduated from Great Fete goer to become part of the organisation, said Korner Stone is one act billed to appear on Reggae Thursday.
“Just think top-tier, the best that Trinidad and Tobago has to offer,” Asson laughed, when pressed about other acts in the local line-up.
In the past, American rappers like Rick Ross, Future and Young Thug, and R&B stars like Ashanti have graced the We Fete stage at Great Fete. The aim was to make foreign acts draw attention to Tobago, and Trinidad by extension, as destinations for entertainment and tourism, Asson said. But organisers have kept it in the region this year.
“The pandemic did really cause some refocusing; focusing on our home-grown and our region is also very important for us. And while we are looking outward for talent, we’re working within the region and talent from Jamaica.
Skillibeng (Emwah Warmington) is one of the feature Jamaican acts for We Fete 2.
They will be the acts that we will be using for what we consider to be the biggest night of Great Fete, the Saturday, We Fete,” she revealed.
Apart from Skillibeng, two other Jamaican entertainers will appear. Just think “S.” In the meantime, emerging T&T artiste Yung Bredda (Akhenaton Lewis) has been named as one who will join the Jamaican cast, making his debut at We Fete. He is a growing talent, respected and well-loved by the youth, Asson said.
Welcome Wednesday, on July 27, will be an authentic taste of Tobago with the island’s signature cuisine featured in a fireside cooking-bonfire event meant to greet and settle patrons in as many arrive in Tobago for the mega weekend. There will be drinks as people Sip and Paint–an activity which received a favourable response last edition–and play board games.
Asson felt Welcome Wednesday would be a hit, particularly with their numerous patrons from the US, UK and other Caribbean countries.
“It’s like the appetizer,” Asson said. “You come, settle in with your crew. If you’re coming over from Trinidad or you’re flying in from overseas and you come, rest your bags and get a taste of what to expect for the rest of the days.
“We’re coming out of a pandemic, so we really want to give people something memorable and we believe that Welcome Wednesday will start the ball rolling.”
Soca Glow is dedicated to Blaxx (Dexter Stewart), who passed away due to COVID towards the end of March.
“We’re recognising Blaxx for the contribution he has made to the genre. He has been part of Great Fete and we’re very saddened by his untimely passing and we feel that it’s very important to take time out to pay homage to him,” she said.
Soca acts will be backed by the A Team band.
As to how the events will be spread across the island? Welcome Wednesday will be situated in one place, Reggae Thursday one place, while the Friday, Saturday and Sunday events will share one venue, the Pigeon Point beach facility, and the Monday Cool Down will have their venue on a beach to be announced.
Whether patrons chose to attend the entire Weekend or days in-between, Asson said Great Fete has something for everyone and is sure to deliver pure vibes.
Pointing out that the event not only benefitted the artistes and vendors, she said she was proud that Great Fete Weekend generated revenue for the economy. Accommodations like hotels, villas, bed-and-breakfasts, rental car companies, beach services such as tour boats and jet skies and the air and sea bridges between Trinidad and Tobago are heavily booked at that time, she said. Clothing and craft vendors, too, were favourably affected, she added.
Yung Bredda (Akhenaton Lewis) will make his debut at We Fete, Great Fete Weekend.
She said in recognition of its social responsibility, in 2019 the organisation started the “Green Initiative,” serving food and drinks using utensils, plates, boxes, garbage bags and cups made from recyclable or biodegradable materials to some 13,000 patrons of Great Fete Weekend. It started to promote environmental awareness and encourage recycling. Twenty coconut trees were planted in designated areas at Pigeon Point Beach with the assistance of Secretary of Tourism, Culture and Transportation Councillor Nadine Stewart-Phillips and Secretary of the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment Councillor Kwesi Des Vignes.
Great Fete sorted almost three tonnes of recyclable waste generated by the event which was made into a sculpture of a fish. It is now on display at Pigeon Point Beach to raise awareness of the effects of pollution on the environment.