After having to be rescheduled from Friday due to the passage of Tropical Storm Harvey, the official Opening Ceremony for CARIFESTA XIII took place on Sunday, with Barbados’ Minister of Culture Hon. Stephen Lashley declaring the festival open.
The ceremony at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown was attended by Barbados’ Prime the Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart; Secretary General of the Caribbean Community Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, local and regional Ministers of Government, CARICOM Secretariat officials and CARIFESTA delegations from the Caribbean Community and observer countries. The ceremony was preceded by a colourful parade of participating countries showcasing their cultural traditions and wearing their national colours and costumes.
In his remarks at the opening. Minister Lashley said the hosting of CARIFESTA XIII will be remembered as a turning point in the Region’s quest to further economic diversity and a time for deepening cultural ties within the Region while establishing cultural industries as key to the economic transformation of CARICOM economies.
“We chose from the outset to place the development of our cultural industries at the core of the festival.” Minister Lashley said. He also announced that Barbados has appointed two new Cultural Ambassadors in ‘soca queen’ Allison Hinds and veteran calypsonian Stedson Wiltshire also known as Red Plastic Bag.
The CARICOM Secretary General told the opening ceremony that the arts are a cornerstone of the regional integration movement, and a force that binds, inspires us, and defines CARICOM in a unique way.
Ambassador LaRocque said Barbados’ hosting of CARIFESTA XIII demonstrated in a tangible way, the country’s recognition of the significant contribution that culture and the creative industries can make to economic and social development of Member States. He said it reaffirms the country’s commitment to CARICOM and to regional integration.
“This year, we celebrate forty-four years as a Caribbean Community, and CARIFESTA has been with us from the beginning. As the cultural flagship, CARIFESTA is a highly-valued CARICOM event that is near and dear to our hearts. Since its inception in 1972 in Guyana, it has given us a regional platform where we can share and exchange, showcase our talents and, in essence, “Assert Our Culture and Celebrate Ourselves” the Secretary General said.
CARIFESTAXIII runs from 17-27 August and is being held under the theme ‘Asserting our culture, celebrating ourselves”. This is the second time that this mega cultural festival is being hosted in the land of flying fish as Barbados also took on the festivities for CARIFESTA IV in 1981.