Cleo Carti was crowned Queen of the Band in her Spirit of the Salt costume on Sunday, April 30 at the Jocelyn Arndell Festival Village.
CARNIVAL VILLAGE--On Sunday, April 30, the long-lost King and Queen of the Band competitions took place at the Jocelyn Arndell Festival Village. Unfortunately, only two out of the seven contestants set to compete were able to show off their costume on the stage, primarily due to lack of sponsorship. Cleo Carti impressed the jury most with her “Spirit of the Salt” costume and she was crowned Queen of the Band 2023.
Some twenty years ago, the King and Queen of the Band competitions slowly went dormant due to lack of competition and funding. But this year, President of St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) Edward Radjouki prioritised the return of this carnival tradition.
The event, sponsored by Republic Bank and Maybelline, was free of charge and attendees were treated to two costume reveals and performances by Cleo Carti and Kristen “Tavie” Moore, the only two contestants who made it to the final stage of the competition.
According to SCDF Treasurer and Carnival Director Mike Granger, initially seven participants were set to compete. “The others dropped out due to financial reasons, no sponsors mostly. So, we went ahead with who we have,” he explained. "Hopefully the revival of this part of carnival gets more support next year. "
Winner Carti’s “Spirit of the Salt” costume portrayed the legacy of the salt pickers, i.e. the ancestors who worked St. Maarten 's white gold. The contestant showed off her costume’s salt baskets filled with handcrafted salt crystals and water drops, a frill skirt representing the salt pond, a luxurious off-the-shoulder frill blouse, an African-French style turban and large island accessories. "St. Maarten, let us not forget these great ancestors, our salt pickers of Soualiga, “ was Carti’s final message to the crowd.
Second-prize winner Kristen “Tavie” Moore’s “After the Storm” costume represented the island’s resilience after Hurricane Irma. After a weather reporter in a yellow raincoat announced that the audience was about to witness the storm that St. Maarten has ever seen, “Hurricane Tavie” entered the stage in a whirlwind of color, feathers and energy. The vibrant colours in her backpiece symbolised the aftermath of the hurricane and celebrated St. Maarten Carnival’s 52nd anniversary. With boots and a body adorned with hand-stitched jewels to match, Tavie’s Queen of the Band piece was designed by Tyler Johnson.
After a short intermezzo and some technical difficulties backstage due to the size of the costumes, the contestants came back up on stage for the results. Runner-up Moore scored 415 points and won $3,000 dollars, whereas Queen of the Band Carti scored 528 points and took home $5,000.
Kristen “Tavie” Moore was the second-place Queen of the Band winner in her After the Storm costume.
President of St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) Edward Radjouki congratulates Queen Cleo on her victory in the 2023 King and Queen of the Band competition.