The theme for this year’s fete, held on Saturday 26th February, was ‘Shine For All to See’ and it was a wonderful night of great entertainment by Roy Cape and the All Stars, featuring Blaxx, Rita Jones and Olatunji with a guest performance by Iwer George. Also performing were Dil E Nadan and Destra with T.C., Swappi and Skinny Fabulous. Food of every variety and premium drinks were in abundance such that you couldn’t possibly sample all. Patrons all agree – FOBA’s Carnival fete is safe, decadent and tremendous fun where you get your money’s worth and then some!!

Full reviews by 2 old boys, Wayne Blackman and Warren Parris, can be viewed below. And pictures from the event, taken by another old boy Stephen Broadbridge, can be viewed here.

Review #1 (by Wayne Blackman, Class of 1984)

I need to begin by saying I do not attend Carnival fetes really, far less all-inclusive carnival fetes, having a problem with the concept on many levels, such as; one type of music all night (any other time of the year this would be unacceptable) and I am not really a drinker hence paying hundreds of dollars to go just eat didn’t make sense to me. Further the last and only all-inclusive fete I ever attended  was years ago when the idea of all-inclusive fetes were now starting, for which I got complimentary tickets, and the menu was doubles, pellau, etc and this was a top of the line all-inclusive if I’m not mistaken, it was Penny Commisiong’s all-inclusive; cost $200.00.

With this said my experience at FOBA Carnival fete 2011 was overwhelming to say the least. First, I have come to expect the superb security and parking arrangements at FOBA events and I was not disappointed, but this is about where the norm ends.

As you enter the northern end of the school, you receive your token funky “glass” that lights up, one passes the first of many sponsors, Blink, with their models mannequined on their product signage blocks, you bend the corner and the blink station hands you your Blink hanky and whistle (to make some noise and wave later on), all the equipment you are going to need for a great night to come. Across from this Blink station is the school hall that has been converted into a restaurant, featuring full meals and many varied cuisines.

As one continues, you enter the courtyard, which together with the ambiance of the surrounding school buildings and tasteful decorations seems to welcome and embrace you. On the western end, the stage is positioned, facing it, across the courtyard is a raised segregated area reserved for his Excellency the president Maxwell Richards. This area too is very tastefully decorated. North of the Presidents area is a raised constructed cottage, the Carib booth, beautifully done with lit flooring across the front of the cottage for the dancing Carib girls, splendid!

Also with a constructed, raised cottage at the southern end of the courtyard, is the Angostura – Single Barrel Rum station, also with their own signage girls. Utilizing the entire circumference of the courtyard, you are surrounded with individual stations with every single type of food you can think about from as simple as Bake and shark or Doubles to Roast Suckling pig, Babyback ribs and Peking Duck, with every other type of food you can imagine being offered at some station for your pleasure… including a wild meat station. Food in such abundance and variety I could spend the rest of this report itemizing the various dishes available, suffice to say it’s a food lover’s dream come through.

There are further alcohol stations dotted throughout the compound besides the two immense bars, catering premium drinks, to name a few, Absolut vodka, Hennessey, Baileys (all flavors), Tequila, Wine and Champagne stations and of course Johnny Walker Green station, simply present yourself and place your order. Included just to take the decadence over the top, there are two “makeup” stations by Avon and Kara Mia Carasol to indulge the ladies with temporary tattoos also being available.

As you ate and drank to your heart’s content the live entertainment began at 6:40pm with Roy Cape and the all stars featuring Blaxx and Rita Jones with a guest appearance by Olatunji. One could not ask for a better start to the bacchanal, Blaxx is a wonderful performer and singer with renditions of Tanti Woi, Wotlees, Meh lover and even riskily breaking tradition and serenading the lovely ladies in the house with a verse and chorus of a soulful slows. Iwer also guest appeared raising the tempo of the crowd with a brilliant performance of – Come to Meh!!

This brought your night to about 8pm and next on stage are Dil E Nadan with vocalist Candy Hoyte, Raymond Ramnarine and Derek Seales keeping the energy of the night flowing. Their performance also included a guest appearance by Fatima “recent” old boy – Michael Chuckaree with a rendition of the calypso classic “Lorraine” on pan.

The final entertainment for the night was Destra who came on at about 10pm, accompanied by T.C., Swappi and Skinny Fabulous during her performance and some very “yummy” and energetic backup dancers. In all, a wonderful night of great entertainment, food and drink in abundance that you can’t possibly sample all.

I must also remark on the civility of the crowd attending, for all the alcohol being consumed there is absolutely no hint of a fight or any negative behavior, just absolute enjoyment by all and remarkably I realized the only garbage or paraphernalia on the ground is actually the confetti that had been spewed during the course of the night as part of the fun.

I also took the time to interview some members of the crowd between band performances who all said the one fete they look forward to attending every Carnival is FOBA carnival fete where they feel safe, have an absolute ball and get their money’s worth and then some!!!

Review #2 (by Warren Parris, Class of 1988)

And my peeps, so we come to Shine, the 2011 Fatima All-Inclusive party and as a Fatima Old Boy, I must admit to a certain amount of bias when I describe my Alma Mater’s event.  However, being biased does not really matter if my observations are 100% correct.  In the past I have claimed that the Fatima All-Inclusive is the best party for the carnival because of the variety of food, drink, entertainment, and of course beautiful people found therein and after attending many different events over the years, I have yet to discover any fete to challenge what is put on by my fellow brothers of the grey shirt.  This year I expected a repeat of the excellent service and selection which is the trademark of a Fatima event and I was not disappointed.

On my way to the party, I could see the Vigilance Blimp hovering over the venue and I began to feel an excitement usually reserved for Christmas morning.  You know the excitement to which I am referring: it is an anticipation of good things and wonderful surprises waiting to be opened (at least for those of us who don’t get socks and drawers).  We parked across from the school and simply crossed the road and entered the party with no fuss or wait at all.  We breezed through security and immediately were greeted by smiling ladies with champagne and sushi.  NICENESS!  After passing the Hall, we walked into the courtyard and I was amazed yet again at the creative decorating on display this year.  The theme was Shine and in the late afternoon sun, the college shone and shimmered because of the streamers stretching across the entire length and breadth of the party area.  The Hall and all the windows were hung with silvery streamers that twisted and turned in the gentle breeze and looked like waterfalls all over the school.  As amazing as this looked in the light, when the sun went down and the lights came on, the yard was transformed yet again.  I have several pictures of this light show and when coupled with the stage and its MAGNIFICENT screen serving as a backdrop to the artistes, the venue felt spacious yet intimate all at the same time.  AWSOME job Fatima, truly AWSOME.  Of course, I wasn’t here to just admire the scenery, I was hungry and thirsty so I went to see what goodies were provided to satisfy these needs.

I won’t bother to list all the foods available because that would take too long.  I did take a picture of the menu so you can peruse it at your leisure.  The food tents were laid out around the perimeter of the fete and let’s just say that I attempted to eat my way around the fete and failed miserably.  The usual ultra-premium alcohols were available; Johnny Green, Hennessy, Moet, and Angostura Single Barrel to name a few.  Again, I have pictures of all the specialty selections available and of course the main bars were flush with all types of alcohol as well as Goose (my drink of choice) and while I did my best to make a dent in their stocks I had very little actual impact.  There was however, one specialty drink neighborhood that I repeatedly found myself drawn to and that was the Brewhouse.

Ahh the wonderful Stag/Carib Brewhouse where lovely bartenders plied you with beastly cold draft beer while the Brewhouse ladies wined up and down and all around on the stage.  It was paradise and while Goose was my usual drink at such events, it seemed like I was drawn over and over again to the flashing lights and twirling hips at the Brewhouse almost against my will and of course while there I had to drink a beer or two and take a picture or 10.  I guess this is my way of forewarning you that there will be plenty pics of the Brewhouse ladies.  PLENTY eh!  Fellas, enjoy; ladies, well, wha yuh go do?

As the afternoon turned to evening, the DJ’s had the crowd moving to some excellent music and when the live entertainment began, the crowd was ready to be taken to the next level.  Roy Cape started us off and they rocked the joint!  They gave us a diverse performance of tunes from back in the day to current big chunes and the crowd was feeling the vibes in a big way.  After that, Dil e-Nadan came on, and if we thought we were hyped before, we went through the roof now.  Again, they put together a performance that appealed to every generation in the fete and while there was a wide range present everyone was getting on bad and enjoying the stage show to the max.  I am not going to attempt to describe how Iwer MASH UP THE PARTY because I was too wrapped up in following his instructions to take many pictures or even to remember clearly what went on.  Suffice it to say, he was the high point of the night’s artistes.

After Dil e-Nadan wrapped up a much appreciated performance, the traditional “Wine for yuh Wife” competition took center stage.  The premise is simple, a man comes up on stage and wines for his wife (or significant other) in the audience and based on crowd response, a winner is chosen.  This year’s winner Raymond Samms, a Fatima Old Boy, put down a piece of jub-jub leg wining that left the MC Nikki Crosby speechless (if you were there you would know exactly what that looked like).  Well done Sammy, well represented!

After that heated competition, I decided to go get a drink and get situated for the next and final artist, Destra.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of Destra and I will stalk her in a heartbeat (kinda have already actually).  Ever since I saw her in QRC’s Outta De Blue in 2004 where she performed Bonnie and Clyde, looked me in my eye and told me to drop lyrics on my rag (which I did without hesitation), I was hooked.  She could do no wrong in my eyes and now that she was back this year with some hot tunes and a hot body to match, I was going to be front and center.  Peeps, I was hyped and when she took the stage, the groupie in me came out just a little bit but then I composed myself and started to take some pics and enjoy the show.  After around 15 minutes or so, I felt a peculiar feeling come over me.  I was not feeling as excited as I expected and I thought that maybe I had hyped myself up so much that I had gone past hyped and back to normel.  Well, I’ll just give it some more time; my girl Destra is just warming up and soon everybody will be mashed up fine fine like chillibibi.  After another 15 minutes passed and I was not gripped by any kind of frenzy, I looked around to see if I was the only one not really feeling the show and apparently I was not.  Much of the crowd was on their BlackBerries and cell phones with fingers blurring as they typed away.  As I found out afterwards, people were updating Facebook profiles with yawns and remarking how Destra was putting a whole fete to sleep and she really was!

Mind you, her performance was flawless.  The audio as well mixed and she sounded clear and in tune, the band was excellent, her song transitions were smooth, and her dancers danced in unison and moved on and offstage with a grace that bespoke long hours of practice.  The problem was that this was not a fete performance, this was a show.  This was something best viewed from a seat or in an amphitheater somewhere but it was definitely not suited to a hyped-up fete with people ready to ramfle something…anyting…ting….ting…ting!  Sigh.  I decided that I would get a drink (Brewhouse here I come) and maybe something to eat and for the rest of her performance I was chowing down on some jerk chicken and festival and drinking cold Carib.  Swappy’s set did liven things up considerably and after watching him and his Swappish and Swappilicious dancers do things that would make a chiropractor shake his head, the crowd woke up a little bit and started showing signs of life but alas, when Destra resumed, the vibe dissipated rapidly.  Destra girl, you put on a great show, but we needed a great performance.  Still love you though and I will be front and center at your next show, camera and heart in hand.

After the Destra show, the Dj’s came back on and tried their best to restart the party but sadly, the vibe would not reach the level it was at before the Destra’s show.  Nevertheless, the rest of the night passed delightfully drinking and dancing and enjoying the company of friends new and old and that is unequivocally the biggest strength of this party.  The crowd that attends the Fatima All-Inclusive is as wide a cross-section of Trinidadian people that you will ever encounter.  As I mentioned before there were at least three generations present in the fete and everybody partied together and enjoyed the camaraderie all night with no problems.  The drinks were cold and they never ran out, the food was hot and was still being served when the “rhythm section/J’Ouvert/fete over go home now” music started playing and you could see on the people’s faces as they chipped past me on their way out that they were well satisfied with what they experienced tonight and, God spare life, they would be here again next year.

Congratulations Fatima on another first rate fete and I look forward to doing it again next year.