Mercury Beach was never advertised as a church event. What clearly was promised by the promoters of the beach fest was more of what last year’s event delivered: fun-loving men and women of all shapes and sizes, in creative outfits that were never designed for intellectual or spiritual stimulation. Hours of nonstop fun for less than the price of a traffic ticket.
By reliable account Mercury Beach 2015 proved another resounding success, on many fronts. Several hotels and guest houses in the north of the island were fully booked, thanks to the more than seven thousand beach-loving sybarites who came here for the event from Martinique and Guadeloupe.
The windfall for vendors at Gros Islet Friday night doubtless had MP Emma Hipplyte giving thanks to the Lord. Or so it is rumoured. Even with loads of lambi, lobster and other varieties of seafood brought from other parts of the island, the supply still fell far short of the demand. For grill and taxi operators better days certainly arrived on Friday evening.
Then on Saturday, ahead of the main event, hundreds of French visitors took time out to shop in the city and at the Rodney Bay shopping mall. As for the main event, Mercury Beach, it attracted to the Pigeon Island Causeway (Matalon Causeway?) well over a thousand locals who could not wait to prove they could “partay” as hard as the fun seekers from their French sister islands. And without incident.
Maritime consultant in the Ministry of Tourism, Cuthbert Didier, who worked closely with the organizers, reported that at one point on Saturday there were close to 9,000 people at Mercury Beach 2015. The event also attracted fans from Trinidad and Barbados as well as regional media groups.
“The location was not the first option,” Didier told the STAR. “We were originally supposed to be at The Landings but that fell through. In any case, The Landings venue could not have accommodated the audience at the event this around. We would have preferred not to be boarded up but finally the boarding up and graffiti added a special ambience.”
By Didier’s measure, there could have been a better response from the private sector. Too many wanted to contribute only in kind, not cash. This year’s sponsors were the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, Heineken, Peter & Company and Saint Lucia Distillers.
As for claims Martinique had rejected Mercury Beach, Didier said, “For the past two years the Martinique Tourism Bureau has been engaging the French organizers to bring back the event and offering to pay to host it in Martinique. After the last Mercury Beach held there, a mayor expressed certain concerns related to an incident. Based on that the organizers took the show to Saint Lucia.”
According to Didier, from all accounts the French visitors who are followers of Mercury Beach have informed the organizers to keep the event here. “Lucky for Saint Lucia, the fans followed the beach fest to the Causeway.”
He added: “Right now the merchants in the north and in the city need to create incentives for persons to shop more while they are here and the authorities need to create more attractions around the event so that the visitors would have good reason to extend their stay.” Didier suggested that Gros Islet, along with corporate entities, become partners in the event by creating a village atmosphere for the visitors.
Mercury Beach featured live performances by local and regional performers including Michael Robinson, Ricky T and Q-Pid as well as Mr. Killa from Grenada. Patrons partied on anchored boats and on the seashore, in foam and on the sand. Didier estimates that the French visitors spent an average of fifteen hundred Euros per day (over an average three-day period) while on island. The Saint Lucia Tourist Board, that this year signed a three-year-deal with organizers, is tabulating the financial returns on its investment and is expected to soon reveal its findings.