THE Calabar Festival climaxed Thursday with the Cross River State capital, otherwise known as the Canaan City, bursting in a frenzy of celebrations.
As early as dawn Thursday, the city woke up to the sound of festivities as people began to set up for the carnival. The Millennium Park was the gathering point, and the mood and colours at the park were those of joy and celebration, with the participating five bands in the yearly feast making their ways to the starting point.
By 11a.m, the Acting Governor, Efiok Essien Cobham, accompanied by his wife and other dignitaries, including the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, and wife as well as Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, arrived at the park to a deafening ovation by the people.
And by 11.15a.m, the acting governor moved to cut the ribbon, after which he made the traditional declaration: â€œLet the show begin,â€ and the people responded with joy. From that point on, the carnival assumed a new dimension with the five competing bands â€“ Passion 4, Freedom, Seagull, Masta Blasta and Bayside engaging in a feat of musical gyration, artistic and well choreographed dance steps in a highly entertaining manner that â€œthrew the audience into spellbound celebration.â€
Besides the five bands, other non-competing bands, such as the visiting Brazilian Samba group and Vai Vai entertained the audience as they went on the 14- kilometre street parade that terminated at the U.J. Esuene Stadium for the final showdown among the competing bands. The event lasted into late hours. The winning band was yet to be announced as at press time as the celebration was still on.
Chairman of the Carnival Commission, Mr. Gab Onah, described this yearâ€™s edition as classic, adding that the carnival has gone full swing and now has a brand identity that everyone was willing to be associated with. The presence of over five countries and high-ranking personalities from around the country and outside, he said, is a testimony to the height that the 32-day festival itself has reached.
This will be the first time in history the Calabar Festival is holding without the governor in attendance, as Governor Liyel Imoke is on annual vacation. see more photos