Hundreds of St Lucians and visitors flocked to Jeremie Street last Saturday for the staging of the Laplas Kweyol Traditional Games Fiesta. The absence of such activity for well over 15 years in Castries seemed to have really energized the vociferous and cheerful crowd who were treated to Creole cuisine, fashion and the much anticipated games and activities of the past.
Breakfast offerings included smoked herring and roast bakes, saltfish with creole bread and even “pearmie” which was hot off the coal pot and really tasty. Lunch items ranged from the popular bouillon and calaloo crab to the not so common crayfish, breadnut and fresh roasted pot fish served with farine and pear “balls” neatly rolled and truly mouth watering.
The games began at about 11:30 am with some warm up three-hand domino and draught competitions where winners received gift packages compliments Bounty Rum and Piton Beer. Half an hour later the sidewalks were rendered impassable as hundreds gathered to watch the wooden scooter races which featured nine nervous but eager participants.
After three preliminary events the three first place finishers lined up for the grand final. It was interesting to note that spectators were so enthused and excited, that a few even placed small wagers on who they expected to emerge winner. In the end it was Sylvester Joseph of Castries who walked away with the first prize of $100.00 cash.
The next event was the racing of the wooden trucks (Kabouway) in male and female categories. In true traditional fashion the ladies were first and took to the street for test drives which intensified the excitement and soon the cheers were deafening. As they lined up for the start of the race the Parliamentary Representative for Castries Central, Richard Frederick accepted the starter’s cap and called the event. “On your mark, set, go.”
What happened next can only be described using video footage as the ladies seemed to lose control at the very end and finished in a tangled web of rope, trucks and laughter. A brief meeting of officials decided that the race had to be re-done. The good spirited and cooperative ladies gathered their wooden vehicles and proceeded to the starting point following some minor repairs from the assembled team of roadside mechanics who had no formal training.
The second race was without incident and Tamala Lewis drove away with the $100 first prize in style. Following the men’s truck race the three-hand domino competition began with 21 persons competing for $200 cash and a hamper of drinks from St Lucia Distillers. In the end Joseph Thomas emerged winner.
By that time it was already 3:30pm and the stage was just right for a live creole musical performance. Up came Papa Vader with a collection of creole calypso hits which had even the elderly on Jeremie Street dancing and singing along. The set included road march winner “L’argent”, new single “Doubout Violence” and “Bobere Waya Wouye.” As Invader left the stage someone insisted that he return to deliver his 2011 Carnival Hit “What a Bumper” and in true invader style Papa returned and delivered what can be considered the icing on the cake.
The master of performance invited two ladies to compete in a “Bumper to Bumper” showdown which had Jeremie Street in stitches. The arrival of Thelma’s Models in Crochet and Madras outfits created even more excitement as the ladies displayed a collection ranging from casual elegance to daring innovation. The use of traditional material and crochet combined with the obvious charm and beauty of the models left many a male and female spectator drooling. Cell phone cameras clicked non-stop as some could not resist the temptation to capture such beauty and elegance for future reference.
Laplas Kweyol has truly restored a spirit of appreciation and recognition of our rich cultural heritage and the organizers must be commended for the ability to deliver so many quality events within a one month period. Creator and producer of Laplas Kweyol, Gilroy Ezi Hall, said that the public response to the activities has been overwhelming and intends to have Castries as an official host in 2012. Plans for Laplas Kweyol 2012 are already in the making and Hall expects to send his bid to the FRC for Castries as a host as early as November 2011.