Festival 2019 Report Discloses Irregularities

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While the 2019 festivals were all labeled a success the Virgin Islands Festival Fairs Committee (VIFFC) highlighted a number of concerns that it said needed to be resolved in order to make the organizing and staging of the event going forward in a more dynamic mode.  The areas of concern include the handling of the gates, event security and booths, and bathrooms.

The entry fee charged for the enjoyment of various types of entertainment at specific nights of the annual Emancipation Festival is a major revenue earner for the Festival and Fairs Committee. Unfortunately, it was reported that there were some actions during the 2019 event that undermined this collection of all of the gate revenues.

The Report which was laid on the table of the House of Assembly explained that the gates had to be manned by the Road Town Village Committee members and security for the five paid nights during the appearance of top acts at the 2019 event. It was explained that in order to maximize revenue collection the gates were closed on the five paid nights at 5 p.m and, only persons with passes, tickets, and children under the age of 12 were allowed to enter. It was also expected that other persons had to purchase tickets at the ticket booth in order to enter the village. However, the Report stated that there were claims that some committee members and security guards were allowing persons without tickets or passes in for free.

There was some bad weather during the 2019 event and the Committee said that the hard-felt effects of the rain included the VIFF committee booth which was poorly constructed. In explaining how this shoddy booth became a nuisance the Report stated: “On the nights that it rained, the booth was flooded.”

It was also reported that in the organizing and staging of last year’s Emancipation Festival the Committee also faced a problem with the Office of the City Manager as it relates to the bathroom: “The City Manager allowed a private vendor to brand the bathroom facilities. This was a vendor who did not in any way, shape or form sponsor festival 2019. Marketing and branding of the grounds is a key area of festivals, and the Committee would like to recommend that the Virgin Islands Festivals & Fairs Committee have full control of who can brand the grounds, inclusive of restrooms.”

Although it was noted that the Emancipation Festival 2019 was celebrated without any major incidents the VIFFC explained that it did have issues with security. In the Report it was mentioned that the “security did not meet the Committee’s expectations”: “There were some problems cited with the security guards on duty. For instance, there were times the security guards were seen “drinking” and “sleeping” while on duty. They were also observed allowing unauthorized persons backstage and entering the gate without adequate passes. Persons without adequate vehicle passes were allowed to drive their vehicles on the premises.”

This security concern also extended to the RVIPF which was reportedly absent on the night an incident occurred: “There was one night an incident occurred and no police were present as they left the grounds prior to the crowd leaving.”

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