'issues to address': Ronald St George

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'Boycott still on...unless changes made'

With two weeks to go...

By Renuka Singh

"Big Friday" is still causing big problems for the major kings and queens of Carnival.

In the last few weeks, continued agitation by the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) has resulted in a massive boycott of the kings and queens competition.

Current King of Carnival Roland St George is so committed to the planned boycott that with just over two weeks before the preliminary rounds of the competition, he has not even begun constructing his usually elaborate costume. "We are going ahead with the boycott unless some concessions are made," St George said in a telephone interview yesterday.

The group is calling on the National Carnival Commission (NCC) to publish the prize money, fix the hospitality arrangements for the competitors backstage, address the copyright issues and make the judging transparent.

"We understand that the issue of prize money is before Cabinet, but we have no idea what it is, what it could be. People are competing and they don't know what they competing for," he said.

St George and several other major Carnival kings joined the NCBA, headed by Brian MacFarlane king Gerard Weekes, and took the collective decision to boycott the Big Friday competition, citing not just a clash with Soca Monarch finals but also poor management of their event.

They group say its event is not even being advertised or promoted in any way and in these circumstances will fail to daw any attention.

St George, bandleader of D'Krewe and Associates, has been involved in Carnival for the past 36 years, placed second in the King competition 12 times and finally won the coveted crown in 2012.

But to St George, that victory was a bittersweet.

"I was told that NCBA executives knew I won before the competition was over. How could I trust that? How could I be proud of that?" he asked.

That is one of the changes the group wants. St George hopes the NCC fixes the adjudication process to make it more transparent.

"We may be willing to participate in the competition if they fix those outstanding problems," he said.

In a telephone interview yesterday, NCC head Allison Demas said she was hopeful the kings and queens would not boycott the show.

She said the NCC was working toward remedying those outstanding issues in time for the big show. "I am still in dialogue with the stakeholders and I am sure we can come to some resolution," she said.

In response to questions, NCBA head David Lopez said he refused to get pulled into the bacchanal with "people who have a tabanca like... St George".

"While I would like all hands on deck, if they boycott the show we would just have a new king and queen and maybe even a better king and queen because those big costumes cannot go on the road," he said.

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