There will be a 2021 edition of Montserrat’s St. Patrick’s Festival. This was announced Thursday by Premier and minister with responsibility for culture and tourism Joseph Farrell.
Last year’s festival was abruptly halted on the peak weekend as concerns about the spread of COVID-19 spiked. The more than 3,000 visitors on island for the event had to return home leaving promoters and vendors with massive debts.
Speaking on ZJB Radio, Farrell said “managing a pandemic of this nature in modern times is truly a novelty and it has tested our nations.”
Although there are currently no known cases of COVID-19 on Montserrat, the premier said it was imperative that residents and visitors continue to adhere to the protocols of wearing masks, social distancing and frequent hand sanitisation.
“We must keep the variants out of Montserrat and keep our residents safe,” continued Farrell.
Just as the primary events for the December festival season were cancelled and with only three virtual events, this St. Patrick’s his ministry will finance the Montserrat Arts Council to organise a virtual and shortened festival with only one public event.
“Being a responsible government, we cannot take that risk. Coronavirus is deadly and we must protect the residents,” the premier stated.
The Montserrat Arts Council is working on a programme of activities, with guidance from the Ministry of Health.
MAC Director Kenneth “Rabo” Silcott said the shortened programme will include an island-wide food fair to replace the traditional slave feast celebrations on St. Patrick’s Day, live panel discussions on ZJB Radio, video flashbacks of older events, presentations on the national heroes and previous national awards.
The lighting of the flame will be done without the usual gathering and there is to be virtual shows such as the Jr. Calypso competition, a madras fashion show, and soca review. The MAC Director promises that there will be traditional masquerade music to enjoy.
Premier Farrell said his government is committed to arts and culture and the MAC will receive a scaled down budget for this year. The annual budget for the event is usually in the range of EC$250,000.
While there are no plans to close the borders further to anyone who wishes to come to attend the festival, the officials cautioned that the 14-day mandatory quarantine period is to be adhered to and they will be stepping up vigilance of people in quarantine.
The St. Patrick’s Festival is to run from March 12 – 17, 2021.