Fete supreme in the Southland (January 7, 2019)

With over 7,000 people in attendance, promoter Sheldon Stephen says Xperience Fete may have been the biggest fete in South Trinidad for Carnival 2019. He said this is part of his mission to improve the fete experience in South Trinidad. Stephen said the number of patrons at the event is even more impressive considering that this was the first time it was held.

“We got about 7,300 people. Most fetes in South run between three to five thousand people so we surpassed that number by a lot. We’re trying to change the industry by bringing value plus trying to change the way people party, and also not everybody could afford an all-inclusive, so what we tried to do was something that was a little less than in the middle. Since last year we were analysing how we could bring an affordable event to South but still have a very all-inclusive feel and what we did is, we didn’t try to overcharge people.”
The tickets for the semi-inclusive event ranged from $300 to $380. Sheldon said patrons were able to bring their coolers with their own liquor, were provided with free beer via Heineken and free breakfast. “The 12 breakfast stations had items including waffles, doubles, a sada station, corn soup, cereal, etc.. In addition to being able to bring your own liquor so that you could get the specific alcohol you wanted, you got free chaser and ice and you didn’t even have to walk to the bar. You paid $300 to come to a fete that had all the amenities of an all-inclusive at a third of the price. All in all, it was a nice formula, it was well received and people were happy in terms of what we did.”
The fete featured twelve artists, including Machel Montano, Shal Marshall, Skinny Fabulous, Voice, KI, Ravi B, KMC, Iwer George, Preedy and Nadia Batson. Stephen said he wanted the lineup to be comparable to any of the large North fetes which draw 10 to 15,000 people. Adding to the attraction were the high production values. “We put down a massive 120 foot festival-themed stage like Tomorrowland or Ultra and people were blown away. We had lots of effects, balloon drops, pyrotechnics, confetti blasts, misters, CO2 jets, screens, lighting and decor. We had a lot of interactive stuff and people engaging others, including girls giving out shots, people taking photos, photo opportunities, photo booths, you know people are all about social media these days, everybody got their photos to repost on their profiles, and I think that helped create a lot of traction for us as well after the event.”
Stephen said he was able to do the event on budget because he owns production company Experience Effects, which meant he paid only labour and basic costs.
The promoter said he hopes the event shows promoters that large shows can be hosted in South Trinidad. “We have a very nice venue, which is the Brian Lara Stadium, which is being utilized during Carnival for events, which is great because before we didn’t have a venue in South and now we do have one. There’s lots of parking, we had 7,300 people and parking wasn’t an issue and that’s so great. I think the stadium is a great venue and I think people are utilizing it well and generating revenue for UDeCoTT and for the government.”
Stephen said the event confirms that large events don’t always have to happen in Port-of-Spain. “If I can get 7,300 in my event this year, next year we’re going to cross 10,000 easily. My mission is South could do it too, there doesn’t have to be that stigma that we cannot achieve what Port-of-Spain could achieve. We don’t need to limit ourselves to what Port-of-Spain does and then tell ourselves that as a promoter, we cannot do this, because how much years past, nobody achieved those numbers, so my question is why can’t we? I think we did well this year and next year we are going to do those numbers and show all the other promoters that it is possible, we could do it in South as well.”

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