Once again the Fatima Old Boys Association delivered a phenomenal experience with one of the premier fetes of the Carnival season. This year had seen many improvements on an already exemplary template of organization. A review of the fete by Stefan Roach can be viewed below. Pictures from the event, taken by old boy Stephen Broadbridge, can be viewed here.

Why all the fuss and clamouring to obtain Fatima All-Inclusive tickets year after year? Why are most of these tickets sold out even before their release? After all, it’s just a fete right…a venue, drinks, music and people. What is it that makes this one so special? FOBA has certainly developed an impeccable reputation of delivering a phenomenal feteing experience and this year’s fete, themed ‘Let There be Light’ was no different. This was my third year assisting backstage and I was determined to discover what exactly made this fete so coveted by the masses. Although some may have considered $800 tickets a bit expensive, the demand was unwavering. In an attempt to offer Fatima alumni a better and fair opportunity to obtain tickets, those past students registered on the FOBA database were able to enter a lottery for the opportunity to purchase 2 tickets each. This was one of a few initiatives unfolded this year.

The fete commenced at 5 pm sharp and there was already a large gathering of patrons ready to stream in, dressed in white, consistent with the theme and guideline, “Patrons are asked to wear white”. They were greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne and given certain “essential” items such as a fancy cup and a glow stick. ‘The Security Zone’ personnel dressed in green TSZ jerseys were strategically placed at the entrance to the fete, in the car park (playing field) and throughout the school compound ensuring a secure environment. The décor, as usual, was top notch, bringing the theme to life mainly through the creative use of lighting. Unlike previous years, the stage was placed at the northeastern corner of the school compound facing southwest. This change allowed for a slight increase in the number of patrons as well as maximized the visibility of the stage throughout the entire compound. Four upstairs classrooms were designated ‘Corporate Boxes’, another innovative feature of the fete. These exclusive areas were sold to the companies NLCB, Blink and TSZ and there, patrons experienced more personalized, royal treatment.

By 6 pm, the school was bristling with people putting the vast number of food stalls to work. There is no doubt that another great night had begun. Food was abundant and diverse. There were bake and shark, jerk chicken with festival, dim sum, wild meat, curried crab and dumpling, doubles, kebabs…you can’t expect me to name all, but just about any food item you can think about was available!! Although these choices may be common to the top all-inclusives, the ‘Grand Central Ballroom’ is a detail worth elaborating on. At this quiet, beautifully decorated area located in the school hall, patrons had the option of comfortably dining and choosing between 2, four-course meals including creole and curry components. Overall, there were sufficient and competent bars to ensure quick and quality service and the drink choices suited any taste, from premium champagne to the hardest rum. Another innovation was the placement of large barrels throughout the grounds filled with chilled bottled water, constantly replenished by the bar staff, a simple but truly splendid idea.

However, this is a fete after all, and while patrons attached importance to minding their belly, we all came out to party and have a great time! Roy Cape All Stars, a fixture at the fete since its inception, opened the performances. This band, which included veteran musicians such as recent honorary doctorate Roy Cape himself, got the party kicking. Blaxx commanded the lead vocals belting out hit after hit with his powerful and resonant voice. He claimed Roy Cape All Stars to be the best soca band in the world elaborating on the musical prowess of each musician and the fact that they refrain from using synthesizers. The ‘bacchanalist’ himself, Kerwin Du Bois, joined Blaxx on stage, quenching the crowd’s thirst for sweet, groovy soca. The band entertained through the sunset into the early evening with a set adapted for all generations of soca and calypso lovers.

Dil-e-Nadan, another regular at Fatima all-inclusives, and the feature band at FOBA’s recent Ole Year’s Night Party, followed Roy Cape. They agreed with Blaxx on Roy Cape being the best soca band and crowned themselves, the best chutney-soca band. Led by Raymond Ramnarine, they mixed chutney, chutney-soca, soca, groovy and even vintage calypso into their solid set. The highlight however was their incorporation of two talented Fatima old boys into the performance, violinist, Phillip Carter and pannist, Johan Chuckaree. This was not the first time Fatima old boys performed with Dil-e-Nadan, considering that one of their previous drummers was also a Fatima old boy and that Chuckaree was no stranger to their stage.

During the break before the final band, the humorous MC, Nikki Crosby, initiated the big belly winer competition. Many different versions of ‘big bellies’ entered the stage to compete in the prestigious event. All competitors put their best belly forward as they arduously ‘jiggled it’ down to the ground. However, there was to only be one champion. Due to crowd consensus, Sheldon Boisson emerged victorious and collected a pair of earrings and a necklace…strange prizes.

The crowd got a good hour long break to rest and refuel before the grand finale, Kes the Band, which hit the stage at 9.45pm. Demonstrating the theme of the evening, their animated introduction involved a lively fireworks display, dancing air figures, sparkles and a light show from the twelve towers situated throughout the grounds that were the core of the décor.

The band incorporated well-choreographed dancers into their performance which surely helped reenergize the crowd. The former groovy soca monarch had much musical ammunition to keep the crowd pumping throughout the hour-long set. Admirably, the band transitioned smoothly through songs, perfectly orchestrating their dancers and slight costume changes into the mix. It was a total show, which must have been diligently practiced. To the delight of the crowd, Super Jigga TC and Shal Marshall also contributed their 2k12 hits to the set. There was a slightly hurried conclusion to this ‘total show’ however, possibly due to the band’s subsequent commitments.

Some patrons left immediately after Kes whilst others remained till DJ Hurricane George and Hi Fidelity Less Than Zero’s last song. They vacated the premises looking extremely satisfied, among them, His Excellency President Maxwell Richards, and other VIPs such as Governor of Central Bank Mr. Ewart Williams, Former Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam, Minister of Sports and Fatima old boy Anil Roberts, and Guardian Life’s Board Member, Group President as well as Fatima old boy Mr. Ravi Tewarie.

FOBA President, Barry Davis, recognized the success of the fete, especially with respect to the introduction of corporate boxes and the shift in stage location. The two main sponsors of this successful event were Blink Vigilance and NLCB. Fatima College All-Inclusive 2012 certainly lived up to all the hype and expectations, making us the envy of other colleges. We salute the hard work of all the members of the organizing committee and those who volunteered their assistance!

I wonder how many are already ‘campaigning’ for next year’s tickets?