By Latrishka Thomas
Police are currently investigating vandalism and theft of sound system equipment at the Barrymore Hotel where the damaged and missing items had been set up to stage performances on the weekend by a calypso tent.
On Saturday, vandals forced the stoppage of the Sweet Benna Soca Calypso Tent operated by band leader Junie Edwards.
“We are very surprised and we are investigating the matter along with the security team that was stationed there and the police. It’s very disheartening to us because the Festivals Commission extend a lot of money to host the calypso tents on the weekend. We would have spent a lot of money to ready the premises and we have been having at least four weeks of smooth calypso at Barrymore … and so we were very surprised,” the chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Festivals Commission, Maurice Merchant, said.
Merchant told OBSERVER media that upon arriving at the Fort Road location to prepare for the event that night, a team noticed that a number of items were missing while several others had been destroyed.
He said: “So far the proprietors of the sound, that’s Lava Sound system, they have reported that 20 mic cords are missing; at least two mic cords – and these are … about 10-15 feet long – were cut, as in cut with a scissors, and several microphones are missing. At least six saxophone mics or wind instrument mics [and] four drum mics are missing along with a transformer.”
According to Merchant, this is not the first time something like that has happened.
“We had an incident the week before of some microphones missing and it was just looked at as being misplaced. But this week now, with so many microphones missing, so many mic cords missing and mic cords being destroyed, it lends to wonder what really is happening,” he said.
Merchant therefore believes that the act was a deliberate and malicious attempt to plunder and interrupt the ‘tent’ festivities. He is however confident that, owing to the number of reports made, “the police and those who are looking into the matter will come to a resolution and discover who is responsible for this”.
However, the Festivals Commission chairman said the ordeal will not affect future ‘tents’.
“We have spoken to the proprietors of the sound system and they have informed us that they will be completely rewiring the facility [Sunday] morning and that will facilitate us having the Junior Calypso tent at 5pm followed by the Sweet Benna Soca Calypso Tent at 8pm,” Merchant added.
The postponement of the usual Saturday night calypso event was announced by the Minister responsible for National Festivals, Daryll Mathew, on social media.
His post was accompanied by photographs which showed several pieces of wire on the floor of the stage and the mic stands without microphones.
The event was therefore rescheduled to Sunday night subsequent to the first ever Junior Calypso tent.