On Saturday 29th June, 2013, a massive crowd experienced a true celebration of Trinidad and Tobago’s music, cuisine and culture at the annual Ip-Art Festival held at the scenic Christchurch Park in Ipswich, UK. The event was sponsored by the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission to the United Kingdom, and is one of the largest showcases of T&T’s culture in the United Kingdom.
There was no mistaking that this was Trinidad and Tobago’s day. The huge stage was draped on either side with large “Trinidad and Tobago” banners, and decorated throughout with red, white and black bunting. Tourism Attaché Ms. Achi-Kemba Phillips ensured that the throngs of visitors received a proper education in Trinidad and Tobago’s history as a creative and musical hub. Patrons were impressed to learn that Trinidad and Tobago produced the only new musical instrument of the 20th century, the steel pan, and were excited to try their hand on the steel pan displayed at the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission’s tent. The tent also featured musical instruments, such as the tassa and other drums, as well as information detailing their histories and uses in Trinidad and Tobago’s culture. UK nationals were enthralled by the images of Trinidad and Tobago contained in the various tourism and cultural brochures given away by the High Commission staff, with many expressing their intention to visit the islands.
Patrons received a live experience of Trinidad and Tobago’s culture, one they will not soon forget. Thousands of visitors converged on the Trinidad and Tobago stage, drawn in by the rousing melodies of steel pan and calypso. The CSI Steelband took to the stage first, performing a medley of classic calypso and soca hits. Their vibrancy was infectious, and the energetic crowd danced and waved in a scene reminiscent to the Savannah Greens during the Panorama competition.
Headline performers that day were 2011 Chutney Soca Monarch Rikki Jai and soca icon Denise “Saucy Wow” Belfon. Both performers exemplified the diversity and unique culture of Trinidad and Tobago. Jai electrified the crowd with hits including “Mor Tor” and “White Oak and Water”. Denise Belfon had the crowd in a frenzy as she displayed her famous dancing skills and performed timeless tunes such as “Ka Ka Lay Lay”, “De Jamette”, “Indian Man” and “Saucy Baby”.
As the festivities wound to a close, Ms. Phillips took to the stage to thank the crowd for participating in a fantastic day of cultural celebration. “This has been a great showing of Trinidad and Tobago’s creativity, ingenuity and incomparable culture,” she said. “From the steel pan and Carnival to our soca music and unique cuisine, the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission is proud to have shared the best of Trinidad and Tobago with you all”.