POND ISLAND - In response to many public calls, Carnival Village will feature quite a number of new booth holders for Carnival 2017 as the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) continue to give opportunities to new people to operate a booth in Carnival. There will be 10 new booth holders in Carnival Village this year. The Village caters to 79 booths.
More specifically, the foundation seeks to give young St. Maarteners who are “beaming with new ideas for Carnival” an opportunity to bring their ideas and creativity into the Village. President of the SCDF Alston Lourens pointed out that over the past few years the foundation has afforded several people an opportunity to operate a booth which has only yielded positive results.
The foundation in the past has been criticized by the public and government for not giving others an opportunity to operate a booth. “There are Carnival lovers who from the outside looking in, see various creative ways that they can contribute to Carnival and more specifically Carnival Village. We have seen new booth holders do things with and at their booths that some visitors to our island actually come back to experience,” he said.
“We have seen new booth holders start the trend of specialty drinks with creative names and foods that has become the talk of Carnival. So new, energetic ideas enhance the overall Carnival experience and we are happy to give young and not so young business people an opportunity to operate what is basically a small business for three weeks,” Lourens added.
The foundation opens registration for booths every year for interested persons, giving the person who had the booth the year before first-preference when deciding who to allot the booth to. The fact that a person operated a booth the year before, does not guarantee that said person will be allotted the booth the following year. This is clearly outlined in the operating agreement that every selected booth holder signs.
"Who operates a booth is entirely at the discretion of the SCDF based on its vision for Carnival Village and the activities therein. There is this mis-conception that people actually own booths in Carnival Village and this is incorrect," Lourens said.
“Carnival Village is the heart and soul of Carnival. Its ambiance and activities has to grow with the festival. We always boast that Carnival is all inclusive well this should count for Carnival Village as well. We have to give others the opportunity to be part of whichever aspect of Carnival they want to be part of.” Lourens said.
“We appreciate those who have operated a booth in the past and for a number of years, they form part of Carnival lore in some cases. But there comes a point in time where there will be a turnover of booths based on how the SCDF would like to see the Village progress and based on the simple fact that Carnival belongs to the people and as much of the people as possible should get an opportunity to be an integral part,” Lourens said.