It’s the beginning of May, the month when the Delaford harvest festival, arguably the biggest and best festival of its kind, usually takes place.
This year COVID-19 will change that.
Other 2020 annual major festivals in Tobago have been scrapped already. They include the Tobago Jazz Experience, Easter weekend festivities at Buccoo Mt Pleasant, and Dragon Boat Festival.
However, other festivals might be saved, with new requirements for hosting. The recently installed board of directors of the Tobago Festivals Commission, led by Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus, will look at the future of the annual Heritage and Blue Food festivals.
With the social distance policy in place and Government to review its Stay-At-Home policy sometime later this month, there is eager anticipation that somehow, the harvest might still be held on May 24 and 25.
The harvest festival, an almost weekly event in one village in Tobago, is steeped in the island’s culture. It’s a part of the island’s rich heritage from the days of slavery.
It allows all and sundry, from far and wide, to visit participating villagers’ homes to eat and drink, to their hearts’ content, free of charge.
The day begins with a church service, attended by mostly the older villagers, in their ‘church clothes.’
The young and young at heart villagers set out to cook in huge pots on large burners with many fire-rings fuelled by gas and firesides, fuelled by wood.
Villagers have been known to feed unsuspecting guests donkey, monkey, and snake.
Villagers said they understand the need to keep measures in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19, still, they miss the event.
Villager Lewis Martin, now 61 years, said he has enjoyed playing hosts to hundreds of guests over the two- day celebration since he was approximately 20 years old.
“Since I know myself, I celebrating thanksgiving. My parents celebrated it and I took over,” he said.
Life has been tough for him since he lost his maxi taxi income because schools are closed and the tourism sector has dried up.
He started the business in 2001.
Finance Secretary Joel Jack estimated that over 5,000 Tobago workers, like Martin, will become jobless because of coronavirus.
“For sure I would not have been in a position to spend that $10,000 to feed over 200 people like me have been doing for over 40 years but it would have been a good celebration. I would have only catered for visitors for the Monday (May) 25.”
He is now looking forward to next year’s celebration.