Sales at FAM Festival disappointing
- Arts and Craft producers
Even with the massive turn-out at Guyana’s first Food, Arts and Music (FAM) Festival, booth-holders are disappointed that their products, particularly the arts and craft section, did not attract much sales.
Beautiful creations depicting Guyana’s cultural identity, including paintings, earrings, broaches, table pieces, hammocks, and bowls made from local materials such as tibisiri, coconut and woods were on display.
While, arts and craft producers were thankful for the two-day opportunity to advertise their products, they were disappointed that the actual sales of products were slow. They are, however, optimistic that their products would have created a lasting impression in the minds of patrons, who flooded the National Stadium.
Sponsored by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, craft groups of some Amerindian communities, including Santa Mission, St. Cuthbert’s Mission and Kabakaburi participated in the event.
The groups displayed similar products that were made from tibisiri and woods. They stated that many persons visited their tent and admired their neatly hand-crafted ornaments. However, not many persons purchased their crafts.
One of the unique items displayed was the ‘woman or man catcher’ made by Neville Callistro, also known as Might Chief. Without the tale of the slender weaved piece it would look meaningless. But the craft is intriguing as it is said to capture unfaithful lovers.
Callistro related that hiding the ‘woman or man catcher’ in a secret place after reciting a small prayer, an unfaithful man or woman is bound to be caught in the act of having sex.
Another booth which captivated patrons’ attention was Amazon Authentics, which uses Guyana’s unusual wood species discarded by loggers and sawmills to create beautiful, functional and decorative items. Some of the wooden pieces on exhibition were Champaign goblets, bowls and wall plaques.
Though, many persons did not purchase her items, Irene Bacchus-Holder, is grateful for the exposure. She has been in the business for over 10 years and is cognizant of the importance of these exhibitions.
A costume jewel exhibitor touted the FAM Festival as a good idea. She noted that if the Tourism Ministry is sincere about fusing and displaying Guyanese culture, the FAM Festival is the ideal event.
The exhibitor expressed disappointment that the fee to enter was costly. She stated that it is understandable that having Reggae Royalty, Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, the cost may be high but the organizers should have catered for the pockets of the average Guyanese.
She suggested that perhaps that is one of the main reasons why many patrons did not purchase items on display.
The exhibitor recommended that next year’s event should be affordable so that patrons could have a taste of what home has to offer.
Henna designs, which are usually associated with East Indian traditions, are now fashion statements. Indian Chicken Biryani, Sweet House and Henna Designs, located in the City Mall, hosted a henna design booth. The designer pointed out that different designs are used for various occasions but for a ‘lime’ the henna is placed on the hand instead of the palm.
Secretary of the Arts and Craft Producers Association, Patricia Helwig, who also hosted an African Fabric and tie-dye booth and a traditional food booth, said that FAM Festival was a good idea. She lauded the fact that it coincided with the country’s 46th Independence Anniversary.
Helwig added that the concept of having the various cultures displayed in one location, really made the event unique. She stressed that being family-oriented was also a plus.
Nonetheless, she was disappointed that non-traditional foods such as hotdogs and fish and chips were present at the venue. Helwig noted that the crowd’s responses to the traditional meals would have been different if those snacks were not available.
But according to the event’s coordinator, Lisa Insanally, having the non-traditional foods was necessary, owing to the crowd that was expected. However, the booths selling non-traditional foods were only allowed to open-up in the evening.
Insanally stated that thousands of patrons flooded the National Stadium on Saturday evening to attend the grand concert headlined by Damian Marley. Many were also present during the day, visiting the various booths.
She stated that the general response to the event was good but the late attendance by patrons caused some programmes to be delayed. For instance, the cultural programme scheduled for 15:00 hrs yesterday was delayed because patrons turned up late at the Stadium.