The atmosphere outside of the spanking new Shaw Park Complex was second to none, with hundreds turning out for the THA Champs 2015. Held recently in the spacious Car Park of the Complex, the event proved to be not only a vibrant competition, but also boasted a celebratory atmosphere at the impressive new venue, as persons ‘limed’ the night away.

Chairman of Pan Trinbago – Tobago Region, Marie Toby was effusive, as she exclaimed, “we have made the rounds and we are back home, whether inside or outside,” as she boasted that, “Tobago Steel Bands continue to dominate the National Panorama Competition.” She pointed out that this year 11 Bands qualified for the National Semi-Finals and six will go forward to the Finals, three Medium Bands, one Small Band and two Single Pan Bands.

Toby also congratulated the Junior Panorama Champions, Signal Hill Secondary in 1st Place first, Goodwood High, 2nd Place and Speyside High 3rd Place.

Advising that Pan Champs Competition is a collaboration between the Tobago House of Assembly and Pan Trinbago, Toby explained that patrons were given a homecoming gift, to attend, free of charge. There was a hearty round of applause also, when she explained that the Tobago House of Assembly “has committed to provide grants to all participating steel bands in the finals, in addition to their winnings, to allay excessive cost in the Steel Band Movement.”

Representing the Executive of Pan Trinbago, General Secretary Richard Forteau relayed congratulations from Pan Trinbago President Mr. Keith Diaz, to all of Tobago, on the spanking new building, for which he declared, ” you should feel proud.” The Pan Ttrinbago General Secretary noted, that “the National Organization is very happy for the numerous Tobago Bands, competing on the National level.” He announced that coming out of Panorama 2015, “six Large Bands, four Medium Bands and two Small Bands, will represent this Country at the first ever International Conference and Panorama, which will be held in August 2015.”

Parents were thanked for allowing their children to participate in something as positive as pan, which he said, “is taking the world by storm.” An enthusiastic Community Development and Culture Secretary, Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus emphasized, “whether we are inside or outside, we are here to celebrate the return to the Shaw Park Facility of the Carnival activities.” Lauding the Facility as magnificent, Tsoiafatt-Angus declared, that the free entry at the Complex, “is a housewarming gift, to encourage persons not to miss next year.”

Admitting that there were challenges to surmount in the partnership, Tsoafatt-Angus likened these to a test of the commitment of partners in a relationship, where there is agreement and disagreement, but above all mutual respect. She commended Pan Trinbago, on behalf of the Chief Secretary and the Tobago House of Assembly, for the partnership which continues for yet another year and which is expected to be sustained year after year. “We would love up, vex up, but in the end will make up.”

For the first time, she announced, “a Performance Fee, similar to that at National level, will be paid, since if we are biggish enough to build a beautiful Complex such as this, one that cannot be compared with anything around the Region, it is only fitting that we treat our Artistes the same way.” Tsoiafatt-Angus expressed pride in the achievement by the Tobago Pan Fraternity, with the eleven Bands qualifying for the Semis and the six, which go through to the Finals, given the challenges faced.

When all was said and done, in the Large Band Category, N.G.C. Steel Xplosion, coming out of Mt. Pleasant, Placed 1st and won a Trophy and the handsome Cash Prize of One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Dollars, ($120K). They were closely followed by Petrotrin Katzenjammers, who Placed 2nd and N.L.C.B. Buccooneers, 3rd. Our Boys Steel Orchestra had a resounding victory in the Small Band Category. Emerging victorious in the Single Pan Category was Metro Stars out of Pembroke.

Members of the audience who were asked to comment, shared that the event was “magnificent.” The soothing sea breeze and the canopy of a clear starlit sky, made for an enjoyable and memorable THA Pan Champs 2015 experience, for both locals and visitors alike.