EDITORIAL: Winning wider support for Oistins festival
IT IS a sad commentary on Barbadian life in 2014 that the founder and other leading personalities involved with organisation and sponsorship of the Oistins Fish Festival should feel compelled to go public with appeals for Barbadians to ensure the survival of what has long evolved as one of the popular cultural landmarks of this nation.
True, it’s a period of deep national anguish over the social and economic challenges facing Barbados in its 47th year of Independence. However, when the pleas for support to ensure survivability of this festival, which spans some four decades, includes its founder, Lady St John, as well as dedicated organisers, such as Herbie Yearwood, then people of goodwill, across social, political, business and other segments of the nation, should consider how best they could rise to the invited challenge.
It may be tempting for some to cynically respond that this is a problem for Government and the business people. The Government and business sector are vital partners, not the least of course being our fisherfolks, the men and women who sustain, by their respective endeavours, this much desired slice of Barbadian life.
Irrespective of the level of support by Government and the businsess community, as well as the fisherfolk themselves, it would be a ridiculous venture to organise and maintain the festival without assured popular support by Barbadians and tourists who have been traditional participants in this festival.
Indeed, for those familiar with the origin and development of the festival, it would be quite difficult to conceive of an Easter holiday without this cultural event that has evolved to enrich what’s viewed as a significant feature of the Bajan way of life.
In the circumstances, it is understandable, indeed plausible, that the parliamentary representative of that constituency, Minister John Boyce, was also quite anxious to voice his concern at last Saturday’s opening of this year’s event, for a renewal of sustained popular support.
Mr Boyce stressed the need for both stronger sponsorship and also improve on creative organisation to attract and sustain wider public support for the festival. For her part, Lady St John was delighted to recall the vision that resulted in the genesis of the annual festival and the culture now associated with regular entertainment at Oistins.
Perhaps there needs to be some critical new thinking among the traditional organisers and sponsors themselves to ascertain what changes should be made to sustain popular support for this festival that has impacted so much on Barbadian cultural life.