The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism’s Division of Festivals has pioneered the return of in-person Carnival events while prioritizing public health safety and the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
The 2021 Carnival Virgin Islands ‘1 Night, 1 Fête’ took place seaside on Friday at The West Indian Company Limited (WICO) dock on St. Thomas, and featured leading U.S. Virgin Islands musical groups Cool Session Brass, Legacy Band and Spectrum Band. 2021 International Soca Monarch Farmer Nappy of Trinidad and Tobago headlined the ‘Vaccination Jam’, which accommodated 200 vaccinated patrons and stressed compliance with COVID-19 protocols, including physical distancing, mask-wearing and proper handwashing hygiene.
Envisioned by the Department of Tourism, ‘1 Night, 1 Fête’ was executed in consultation with the Office of the Governor and the Department of Health to promote a ‘Vaccinate to Party Safe’ initiative to help reach Governor Albert Bryan Jr.’s goal of vaccinating 50,000 Virgin Islanders by July 1. ‘1 Night, 1 Fête’ was also an opportunity for musicians to showcase their talents after more than a year of pandemic restrictions, which have impacted their ability to perform.
“I just want allyu to know, St. Thomas, you know, it have leaders and it have followers … the whole world going and follow this party, vaccinate party,” said Farmer Nappy, while speaking with party-goers during an action-packed 40-minute set. The wildly popular soca artist also endorsed the talent and professionalism of U.S. Virgin Islands artists: “I am about to go Orlando, Atlanta … all these places to perform. If there were a band, this is the band (Spectrum Band) that traveling with me on tour.”
Only vaccinated patrons were permitted to enter the hot-ticket event, and proceeds will be going toward relief efforts for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which has been been adversely impacted by multiple eruptions of the La Soufrière volcano in recent weeks. Virgin Islands Lottery has also contributed $5,000.
“We are excited that culture, music and carnival are alive and kicking in the USVI. This is a testament to all Virgin Islanders for taking public health safety seriously during the pandemic,” said Joseph Boschulte, USVI Commissioner of Tourism.
“We have been on top of Caribbean tourism, we are on the cutting edge of hosting virtual and now in-person social gatherings, and our team will continue to leverage our creative talent to move our destination forward,” he added. Emphasizing the importance of getting vaccinated, Commissioner Boschulte said, “We can show the world that you can enjoy a vacation, or enjoy a fête, and be safe.”
Lieutenant Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands Tregenza Roach, who attended the event, spoke of the incomparable energy of Carnival, and the power of having a safe event for people to celebrate their culture and feel rejuvenated in difficult times. “I think Carnival brings a certain energy, a certain release, a certain soulfulness that we always should regard," he commented.
Carnival Virgin Islands also featured three “Festival Arts Dialogues”, which discussed the stories behind Carnival celebrations in the U.S. Virgin Islands. They included “Road to Royalty”, “Calypsonians” and “Costume Workshop”, which aired on local PBS affiliate WTJX and streamed on the Division of Festivals’ online platforms.
Ian Turnbull, Director of the Division of Festivals, thanked the Government of the Virgin Islands as well as the sponsors for supporting the Division’s vision. “Last year we were virtual, and now we are here with something new … I believe this could be the blueprint for the Caribbean,” he said, adding that next steps include producing more events across the U.S. Virgin Islands for residents and visitors alike.
Future Division of Festivals events include the 68th St. John Celebration (June 28 - July 4, 2021); the 69th Crucian Christmas Festival (Dec. 4, 2021 - Jan. 9, 2022); and the 70th Carnival Virgin Islands on St. Thomas (April 2 - May 1, 2022).
Sponsors for “1 Night, 1 Fête” included Coors Light and Hennessy, which are distributed by Bellows International and West Indies Company; Virgin Islands Lottery; FirstBank; Maternal and Child Health (USVI Department of Health); Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN); and The West Indian Company Limited.