Castries Mayor Geraldine Lendor-Gabriel this week deemed Assou Square a success, calling the event a record-breaking affair.
The popular event returned on the first day of the new year with a few new additions and much flair following a 2021-2022 hiatus.
The street fair was halted during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and expectations for Assou Square were high this year; Castries City Council (CCC) officials assured citizens that the event would be spectacular.
Though inclement weather threatened to put a damper on the event on the first day, Assou Square 2023 appeared to be a hit.
“I think it was one of the biggest Assou Square events. We had a wide range of activities for children and families to participate in. The venue proved to be quite good (and) even with the inclement weather on the first day we were able to at least maintain some level of activity. To my mind (it seemed) record breaking in terms of the crowd and the participation,” Lendor-Gabriel told The VOICE in an interview this week.
Vendors and patrons were fortunate enough to get an extra day of Assou Square which was initially scheduled to be a two-day affair. CCC officials extended the event for one more day after a large outcry from the public.
Vendors did not get the returns they anticipated due to inclement weather, officials indicated.
“We were concerned about the first day, we had to give the vendors the opportunity to do what they had to do,” Lendor-Gabriel said, acknowledging that “it’s by far any revenue generating activity for us. If you look at it about 40 booths at about $550.00. The massive nature of that… (it) costs us so much more resources.”
But Lendor-Gabriel made it clear that it was a people’s affair, adding that vendors were particularly pleased that the event was extended.
“Of course you can understand the cost of one additional day but the inclement weather meant that we had to consider what was happening and so we extended it. It is a people’s event and so we have to manage it in that way,” she said.
The activity was held on the Derek Walcott Square as customary, however this year the William Peter Boulevard and Constitution Park were also included and was transformed into a fun zone for kids.
“I was quite pleased especially for the children. Families who may not necessarily want their children to be in a place where alcohol is being sold openly found themselves having that zone so I’m quite pleased with what came out. I think it speaks to Castries as a venue for events,” Lendor-Gabriel said.
Whilst the event cost the Council thousands of dollars (the initial budget was well over $300,000), Lendor-Gabriel said Assou Square is a tradition the Council simply can’t say “no” to.
“We focused on people and delivering a high-quality product and a safe experience and we were able to deliver,” she said.
There was no shortage of talent at this year’s event. “Boo” Hinkson and the Tru Tones, the Derek Yarde Project, Ricky T and more set the stage ablaze at Assou Square.
And whilst some individuals have complained about the format that has been used in the last few years, the mayor said “it’s how much you can do. I mean we had the karaoke in the Boulevard which went very well, we had the train in Constitution Park, that’s a new (addition). We evolve with our society, we have embraced new activities; you can only do what people are interested in. I think we had quite a bit.”