Miami Carnival targeting ‘complete experience’
Patrice Roberts to headline
As the curtains close on carnival in Jamaica, organisers of Miami Carnival are promoting the upcoming event which is slated for South Florida in October.
The carnival, which is celebrating 38 years, will span across four events: the Kiddies Junior Carnival on October 1, steelpan ‘Panorama’ competition on October 7, J’ouvert on October 8, and the parade of bands and concert on October 9. It’s a line-up that Chief Marketing Officer John Beckford is describing as a “complete experience” which offers something for everybody.
“Our headliner this year is Patrice Roberts; talk about woman power,” Beckford told The Gleaner. “She has a repertoire of music that can entertain you for 90 minutes or more. We have Shurwayne Winchester, two-time road march champion out of Trinidad and Tobago. We have, representing The Bahamas, Julien Believe. One of the things we do is encourage young, aspiring artistes and give them their 15 minutes of fame on the Miami Carnival concert stage, and so, in previous years, we’ve had Empress J, Trevon Vibez out of Barbados, even Julien Believe. Nine or 10 years ago, he was a rising star. Now he’s a well-known brand in The Bahamas and he’ll tell you he got one leg up on his ladder to success through Miami Carnival because, when no one else would give him that 15-minute gig, we did, and we’ve always supported him. So, we give you the A-list stars, the rising and future stars of tomorrow.”
Also distinguishing itself from other carnivals, Miami Carnival has an official dancehall zone which Beckford said is a nod to Jamaicans. The popular Big Wall party made its debut at the carnival in 2021.
“If you came to Miami Carnival in 2021, you got the parade of bands, over 21 mas bands, almost 30,000 people in costumes. You got a mega concert with over 18 artistes, including Nadia Batson, then we had the dancehall zone and Big Wall party. There was no place in the world, no other carnival on planet Earth except Miami Carnival where you go and have the parade of the bands, mega concert, dancehall zone, Big Wall party, and that’s just on Carnival Sunday. The day before, you have J’ouvert, before that Panorama and Junior Carnival.”
This year’s Panorama will welcome a guest steel orchestra from Japan who will appear alongside other steel orchestras.
“There’s also a steel orchestra coming out of St Thomas and we’re working on one and two other markets as well. Steel pan music is one of the sweetest sounds and I know in some markets it no longer exists and, in some cases, it might be the lack of interest as young folks drift away from that …. As an organising body, we would love to see panorama come back to its grand form here in Jamaica, and we’re certainly prepared to work with the local pan enthusiasts to see what we can do to bring back panorama into the line-up for Jamaica’s carnival, ‘cause it’s an important element.”
While the nuances of the novel COVID-19 pandemic caused carnivals in the region to be pushed back, Miami Carnival successfully executed its return last year, a model which Beckford said proved useful for fellow carnival stakeholders.
“Other carnival committees actually came to Miami Carnival to look at what we did, how we did it and how we executed that whole COVID mitigation plan, to make sure that every person was tested. And then you got your wrist band showing you’re COVID-free and it took great deal of labour as well as cost, but we did it. Kudos and thanks to the entire board and board Chair Joan Justin, a tremendous leader, along with our executive director, Mario Zamora.”