On Friday, ten young ladies will vie for the coveted title of Ms Heritage Personality 2012. One of the most anticipated events of the Tobago Heritage Festival, the show takes place at Cyd Gray Sporting Complex.
As the date draws near the ten hopefuls say farewell to reigning Ms Heritage Personality 2011 Khadisha Kent. The ten contestants would be judged in three categories: Talent, Gown and Intelligence that is all geared towards showcasing the rich culture and heritage of Tobago.
According to Sharon Phillips, show coordinator of the Ms Heritage Personality 2012 competition, the Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary and every year it attracts hundreds of people both far and near as they celebrate the unique cultural traditions of Tobago.
She said, "The Tobago Heritage Festival started June 23 with our Bele Fest and culminates on August 1 with a freedom walk. We hold this event every year because it is important for us to educate the young and those who would be uninformed of the cultures and traditions of us as a people and where we have come from. It is also important for us that the ones who already know be reminded and for us to introduce our culture to tourists, visitors and people who are from Tobago that are coming back after spending such a long time abroad that may have forgotten. This has been a very important thrust by the Tobago House of Assembly and FCB to ensure that this festival becomes so embedded in the spirits of our people that we can take our heritage and market it to the rest of the world."
The ladies competing for Ms Heritage Personality 2012 are as follows: Jekeisha Charles, Trudy Ann Baptiste, Sherise Jack, Keifa Des Vignes, Kalifa Hislop, Christel London, Cavel Gordon, Mandisa Jack, Kemba Winchester and Shinelle Felix.
Lincoln Leander, pre-show coordinator for Ms Heritage Personality 2012, says that the ladies must do a talent that is indigenous to Tobago culture. For the gown segment, they would parade across the stage in gowns that reflect Tobago culture be it in culinary arts, music or dance. For the final segment of the competition only the top five girls would then go on to be interviewed for the intelligence segment of the show.
He said, "From there a winner would be selected however there is a pre-judging competition that takes place on July 15."
Phillips added, "Trinidad and Tobago though it is a Republic, the two islands share a different culture. And the Heritage Festival is basically the largest celebrated event on the island. It is so encompassing. There are museum tours, where people can see artifacts and learn about the history of our island. There are traditional plays, folklore, theatrical acts and various activities which all culminate with a freedom walk on Emancipation Day, August 1."
According to Phillips, for entering the Ms Heritage Personality competition the criteria is as follows:
• You must be 17 years or older
• You must possess a minimum of 3 O'Levels
• You must be a participant of the performing arts
"The festival usually lasts just 2-3 weeks but in light of the 25th anniversary we have taken the opportunity to celebrate for the entire month of July. This time the festival will last roughly six weeks. People seem to know very little about Tobago, even our Trinidadian counterpart; that is one of reasons why we do this. There are a lot people from Trinidad who don't get the opportunity to travel to Tobago or stay long enough to take everything in hence the reason for this," she said.
"We would like the people of Tobago to be reminded of who we are. It is so easy today with so much influence from outside to be stripped as a country and as a people from our roots. It is important for us to go back there and find out what made us so strong, what makes us so unique in order for us to charter our way forward in a more positive light," she said.
Echoing similar sentiments, Lincoln Leander, pre-show coordinator for Ms Heritage Personality 2012 said, "In keeping with the theme Yours, Mine and Ours — To Preserve and Protect, it is very important for us to recognise ourselves where we were, where we are now and where we will be in order to preserve and protect what is ours in Tobago."
Phillips said, "We must educate because if we do not know who we are as a people it would be very hard for us to market ourselves to the world. We must know what we have and recognise how important it is to us a people then we would be able to protect it with our very lives."
The list of events courtesy the Tobago Heritage Festival
17 - Caanan/ Bon Accord/Crowne Point - "It takes a village to raise a child" - Day activities - Sports 6am, Stage Production 8pm - Store Bay (adult $60, child $30)
18 - Parlatuvier - "The French In We" at Parlatuvier Multipurpose Facility Centre - 6am-7pm and Heritage Island Tour
19 - Mason Hall - "Games We Used To Play" - Mason Hall Recreation Ground - Road Race - 6am, Street Parade - 11am, Games - 1:30pm sponsored by TSTT
20 - Moriah - Ole time Tobago wedding - Moriah Moravian Church Hall - 1pm. Cake and wine Moriah Community Centre - 2pm
21 - Mason Hall - "Games We Used To Play" - Mason Hall Recreation Ground - Road race - 6am, Street Parade - 11am, Games - 1:30pm sponsored by TSTT (adult $30, child $15)
22 - Mason Hall - "Games We Used To Play" Mason Hall Recreation Ground - Road race - 6am, Street Parade - 11am, Games - 1:30pm sponsored by TSTT (adult $30, child $15)
23 - Charlotteville - "Natural Treasures" - Village Trek - 10am, Treasure Hunt - 2pm, Stage Production - "Tobago Dance Festival" Charlotteville Recreation Ground, sponsored by BPTT (adult $30, child $15)
24 - Swum - Wake and Bongo - "We come from far Sandy" Part 2, Whim Hard Court 8pm (adult $30, children$15)
25 - Pembroke - Salaka Fest - Morning Rituals - 5:30am, Stage Production "Blessed is the man that have his own" - Pembroke Heritage Park - 8pm (adult $30, child $15)
26 - Les Coteaux - Folk tales and superstitions village day fair at Les Coteaux Community Centre 6am -2pm, Stage Production - "All Are We Own" - Tablepiece Recreation Ground, 8pm sponsored by Republic Bank
27 - Plymouth - Heritage Calypso Monarch and Pan Folk O Rama sponsored by Angostura at Plymouth Hard Court 8pm (adult $60, child $30)
28 - Plymouth/Bethesda - "Ole time Tobago Carnival" - J'Ouvert - 5am, Stage Production Plymouth Hard Court 4pm sponsored by Angostura
29 - Buccoo - Goat Races - Buccoo Integrated Facility - 10am, sponsored by Angostura ( adult $60, child $30)
30 - Scarborough - The Living Museum - Scarborough Community Centre - 10am
31 - Bethel - African Unity and Drum Festival - Drumming/Folk/Fashion/Food - Montgomery Recreation Ground - 2pm sponsored by Unit Trust (adult $30, child $15)
1 - Pigeon Point - Freedom Walk - Pigeon Point Heritage Park - 11am (free)