By L.K. Hewlett

The new Warner Park will not affect the ‘jump up’ and ‘wuk up’ sessions of the Music Festival, said Stanley Franks Jr., co-chairman of the festival’s committee.

“Moving the Music Festival is going to make it even better,” Franks said.

The announcement that the St. Kitts Music Festival was moving from its traditional venue at the Fort Thomas Hotel grounds, to the new Warner Park caused a stir amongst patrons in the Federation.

Thursday night has always been ‘band night’ when revellers don their shorts, sneakers and waving rags, and jump and prance to music by the likes of Nu Vybes, Grand Masters and Machel Mantano.

Citizens had expressed concerns over whether they were going to be able to jump and ‘wuk up’ or just sit and watch the performances.

Franks, who is responsible for sites and logistics, explained the rationale behind the move.

“Concerns of the viability of hosting the festival at Fort Thomas made us look at hosting it at Warner Park. The new stadium was built not only to host cricket matches, but a number of international events such as our Annual Music Festival,” he said. “We would have had to go and make the Fort Thomas grounds ready, whereas the stadium is ‘good to go.”

Franks said the park provided more space, better toilet facilities and better concession areas.

The multi-service boxes have already been contracted to various groups, and the press will have access to the media box, as it was with cricket.

“We will be using some of the stands so that persons can enjoy the festival in a comfort they couldn’t enjoy before,” Franks said. “We hope to use the ticketing area at the stadium as well as the usual vendors around town. Tickets for the VIP section will be sold at a higher price since it would be an all inclusive hospitality area where persons would be served with drinks etc. Stands A, B, C and D and the Western Mound will be open to festival goers, however the Party Mound will not be used. The Committee has not forgotten those patrons who want to be up close and personal to the performers.

“The covered 60 by 60 feet stage will be erected on the cricket field, in front of the Southern stand with barriers placed around it as there have always been. The stage will be facing south, towards the Lozack Road. Festival goers will have a choice as to whether they want to be on the fields or up in the stands. And those tickets will all cost the same. When people get tired or if it rains, they can retreat to the comfort of the stands, unlike at the previous local where there was virtually no shelter,” Franks said.

Performers will be housed in the Players Dressing Rooms and will chauffeured probably by golf carts to the back stage holding area to await their entrance onto the stage. Large trucks would not be allowed onto the filed as they would cause undue damage, but will be parked outside the Tennis Courts in the large parking area. Smaller vehicles would then transport heavy equipment to and from the grounds.

“Questions had been raised about damage to the grass and pitch area,” Franks said. “We anticipate any damage to the field would be minimal and easily repaired in a matter of a few short weeks. Generators will be mounted on covered ply boards to prevent oil spillage onto the grass. The pitch will be covered at all times and nothing and no one will be allowed onto that pitch. The stage itself will be at least 48 ft away from it.”

The Committee anticipates more than 4,000 persons will attend the 10thAnniversary of the Music Festival, with quite a few being visitors, and feel that security will be better effected at the stadium.

To further enhance the festival experience, they are currently attempting to extend the rental period on the jumbotron that was obtained for cricket.

“The Committee will be faced with the challenge of getting everything in place in a matter of two to three days after the cricket. It will no doubt be an enormous task. We are confident that we can pull it off so that citizens and visitors can have a safe and fun experience at the Music Festival,” Franks said.