Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Carnival Village Shenanigans

I had some mixed feelings about the new venue for the Atlanta Carnival Village. For years, the Village had been located on Fort Street between Edgewood Avenue and Auburn Avenue, in the area alongside and beneath the Interstate I-75/85. Fort Street itself was perfect as it allowed for multiple points of entry and provided a long, wide route for bands to organize themselves and a wonderful viewing point for spectators to experience the mas in all it's glory.

Well at least we're not looking at the underside of I-75/85 anymore
 For one reason or another, after 5 or more years of success at this one location, the powers that be decided to move us to Herndon Stadium at Morris Brown College. I've attempted to articulate my misgivings in a few bullet points:
  1. Carnival village ticket/entry clusterfuck                                                                     You'd think that after running the 3rd largest Carnival in the US for 25 years, they'd have figured out some things by now. Yet after all this time patrons still found themselves having to stand 30-45 minutes in line just to purchase tickets. Then after that harrowing experience, folks still ended up in yet another 30 minute line just to get in the damn place.

    I'd like to offer my opinion on a simple, somewhat elegant solution. For those who haven't bought tickets online, let people pay at the gate, forget the ticket thing entirely. Once you pay you get your armband and you go in, no more having to wait 30 minutes in line then realize, oh shit, you're in the wrong line, etc etc.....simple is always better.

  2. Where are we.....Chernobyl?                                                                                          I'd like to know the reason for switching the venue to Herndon Stadium........derelict, abandoned, total state of disrepair Herndon Stadium mind you. The Carnival did quite fine for the last 5 years down on Auburn Avenue. I suppose the City wanted to hide away all the gyrating waistlines, wanton alcohol consumption and unbridled debauchery us Caribbean folk are known for.

    But did they have to put us on an abandoned college campus? They didn't even try to clean the place, overgrown bush everywhere, grit and grime and broken glass. And it seems like vandals had a good time destroying the commentators box, smashing all the glass windows. Did anybody bother to clean the glass that rained down on the seats below? Nope.

  3. Brainless layout                                                                                                                I'll give the organizers the benefit of the doubt, that this is their first year using Herndon Stadium so a couple lapses in judgement are forgivable. To be honest I'm not even sure why a fire marshal didn't shut the place down because had there been an emergency or something, we'd all be dead, nobody was getting in or out of that place alive. It's a college football stadium right? It'd be reasonable to assume that there would be multiple staircases coming leading down from the stands onto the football field right? How many of those access points do you think were open for patrons to pass? NONE.....not a single one.

    Upon entering the stadium, one had to walk all the way down to the other end of the stands and access the grounds through a back staircase. All the other access points were blocked by food tents and food trucks. Even when you got down to the grounds, folks still had to squeeze through a small space between a food truck to get on the damn field. Oh and it gets better; there is normally a separate section away from the main stage where deejays play dancehall music to cater to the yard crowd. It's a fairly popular part of the Carnival Village every year so as you could imagine it was pretty packed.

    Guess where they decided to locate the dancehall area. Exactly, right at the top of the main only staircase access to the field......brilliant.

    Not pictured, picking the glass out my ass

  4. Performances                                                                                                                    I am all for giving everyone their fair share of time in the limelight. But does it not seem logical that we limit performances at a Caribbean Festival to those that are Caribbean in nature? I'm not sure I understood the need for more than a few rap performances. I don't have a problem with rap, I love rap actually. What I don't like is having rap acts taking up precious time, only to rush through the soca segments later. At a point I swear artistes barely had time to say "Hello Atlanta" before organizers were rushing them off the stage. 
Honestly, it might seem like with all my griping that I didn't have a good time, quite the contrary actually. Logistical issues aside, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Carnival Village. I didn't have any issues getting in as I'd purchased my tickets online, and though some of the performances were lacking, the big names in soca came through in the end and really saved the day. Burning Flames, Iwer George, Pumpa, Rudy, Lavaman and Edwin Yearwood, completely destroyed the place, but came on much too late in the evening, by then a good portion of the patrons had already left.

Thank you Iwer for making it all worth it.
I certainly hope that the organizers will learn from the various mistakes made this year so that they can provide us with a top notch festival experience come 2014.

But until then.......blessings.