New venues and tasty treats mark the 45th anniversary of the festival previously known as Caribana.
“Forty-five is the new 20. We’re looking really good.”
With those words, Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto CEO Denise Herrera-Jackson expressed her enthusiasm over the 45th anniversary edition of the festival now legally prohibited from calling itself Caribana. Herrera-Jackson was speaking at a press conference this morning at the Royal Ontario Museum.
This year’s celebrations may prove extra-festive for some participants, as 2012 also marks the 50th anniversary of independence for Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
The tastiest of the events, which will be happening for the first time at this year’s Caribbean Carnival, might be an overnight Fish Fry at Ontario Place following the parade on August 4. Inspired by food-centric parties held in Grenada and St. Lucia, the Fish Fry will kick off Beyond De Lime, a 24-hour string of food-related events. Also announced, though so far not listed on the festival’s website, was a pair of church services that will bookend the festival.
During the Caribbean Carnival, the ROM will launch a related exhibit, “Carnival: From Emancipation to Celebration,” which will look at the historical and symbolic meanings of such celebrations. To tie into this year’s theme of “Caring for Community,” every event staged as part of the festival will donate money to a different charity.
Two returning events are relocating this year. The Junior Carnival Parade, to be held July 21, will move from Jane and Finch to the north end of Downsview Park, where there will be more room for participants and spectators. That evening, rugby matches that were played in Markham last year will be held instead at Lamport Stadium.
New corporate sponsors were unveiled. The most prominent at the press conference was El Dorado Rum, who will play a key role in the Annual Gala at the Liberty Grande on July 27. (There were no free samples, unfortunately.)
Speaking for the City of Toronto, Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s) noted that the City is “120 per cent” behind the festival. While he praised contributions by the City (council is set to approve $494,000 in funding for the carnival next week) and the province, he criticized the federal government for not playing a larger financial role in the festival over the years.
Reflecting on past years, Mihevc said he felt that a “strong-man leader” approach to running the event had not worked well, and likened the current management structure to an orchestra leader making all the instruments work together. This comment was likely in reference to the bitter power struggle that led to the festival’s name change. Caribana Arts Group, the festival’s previous organizers, lost control of the Caribana in 2006 and sued the current organizers, the Festival Management Committee. In 2011, a judge gave CAG sole rights to the Caribana name, and they haven’t done much with it since.