The memory of Mr. Blyden whose sudden death at the break of this year shocked the Territory was felt as Festival and Fairs Committee reflected on his contribution to festival.
During his opening remarks at the press conference Chair of the Festival and Fairs Committee Mr. Trefor Grant asked for a moment of silence to be observed by the gathering in remembrance of Mr. Blyden; and he noted that the naming of the 2017 village in Mr. Blyden’s honour was appropriate.
Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn also joined in tribute to Mr. Blyden and noted the significance of honouring persons while they are alive and able to enjoy the accolades: “On a somber moment I want to encourage all us that we should give people their flowers while they are alive. That’s a thought for all of us,” Hon. Walwyn pointed out.
The Education and Culture Minister therefore announced that the naming of this year’s village in Mr. Melee’s honor is quite appropriate: “This year’s festival honouree is well fitting. He was no stranger to the Emancipation celebrations, and was probably involved in every aspect of the Festival. From devoting his time on several committees, to village productions, to media production the late Mr. Neil Blyden is well deserving of being honoured for the 2017 emancipation celebration,” the Minister declared.
Hon. Walwyn noted that the international weekend, which is the highlight of the annual village entertainment was the creation of Mr. Blyden. “Mr. Blyden was instrumental in what we call now our international weekend in the Road Town Village, He was a cultural patriot and used his media resources to promote local bands and their music leading up to and during our festivities,” he said.
Further, Hon. Walwyn said that he has quietly reflected on how Mr. Blyden’s presence will be missed at this year’s parade: “Mr Melee was a staple on the Waterfront for the August Monday parade where his ZVCR trailer was always visible. Since his death I always wonder from time to time what August Monday would be like without Mr. Melee being there.”
After announcing that a picture tells a thousand words Mrs. Janice Blyden, the wife of this year’s honouree displayed a photo of her late husband enjoying the 2004 East End festivities in the company of ZVCR staff. She noted that the photo was just a small part of the story of how much Mr. Melee loved festival.
“Those who remember him would remember him in this way where he likes to put on designer clothes, he liked to stand there at festival, he liked to make sure that everyone had a great time for festival.”
In sharing how the international weekend came to be Mrs. Blyden said: “I met him when he came home in 1989 and Mr. Wheatley invited him to join the Festival Committee and he always felt that it was a time for celebration. His thing was to have everybody happy for festival.”
“I remember when he said to me ‘Janice I am going to create an event that is going to have everybody. It’s going to have to be on the recreation ground because nowhere else is going to be big enough to hold it…I am going to have artistes from all over so that everybody can feel welcome’ and he created the international calypso night and it was at a time when – who puts a reggae artiste on a thing with a calypso artiste and he would do those types of things. He would put in the different elements that made you want to come,” Mrs. Blyden shared.