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Printed in The Daily Herald, Tue 3-Aug-2004

Summerfest set the stage for next year, says Derby

PHILIPSBURG--The just concluded Summerfest was "extremely successful," and set the stage for the next event, which organiser Clarence Derby says will be even "bigger and better." The event that started on the French side July 17 with Kassav and ended at A.C. Wathey Cruise Facility Saturday with Sizzla was successful in all ways, according to Derby: the organisation went well, the fact that the organisers were able to put together shows of this magnitude, the coverage in the media, the performances and the behaviour of the crowd.

"I am overwhelmed and happy to know that we pulled off something this huge in such a short time span," said Derby. He said he was especially proud of the fact that the entire organisation had been done locally, from sound and lights to video and stage.

Especially the two reggae/dancehall nights, which included performances by Elephant Man, Bounty Killa, Sizzla and Wayne Wonder, were "by far most popular" with almost all tickets sold. Several thousand people came out to the two reggae/dancehall nights.

"Everyone is now convinced that St. Maarten is able to put on shows like these. This Summerfest sets the stage for the future. It was an event, not just one concert, and it will be around for a long time," Derby told The Daily Herald Monday.

Asked if there would be another Summerfest next year, he said: "Most definitely. It will be even bigger and better." According to Derby, one of the main goals of the past event was proven: "that St. Maarten can do it, and do it professionally."

Derby said the artists had been "very impressed" with the organisation, which included services like limousines, but also with the quality of equipment, the location and stage. "Every artist said he would like to come back," he said. Since the intention is to only bring in the "hottest" artists, Derby said the organisation would take the decision by next year whom to bring back.

Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise Facility, the location for the concerts on July 25, 30 and 31, proved to be "the best place" to host this type of show, said Derby. He added that also many local people had liked the venue, since it was a place to which they normally didn't come.

Derby congratulated the public for their behaviour. "There was no fighting, no pushing. There was a lot of fun and a lot of dancing. Everybody was in the mood of enjoying themselves. It was unbelievable and it makes me really happy to see people had so much fun in a peaceful manner."

Derby thanked the governments on both sides of the island, especially Commissioners Sarah Wescott-Williams and Theo Heyliger. The latter, he said, had supported the event both morally and physically. "Theo helped us lift things, took time off and was there every day," he said. Derby further thanked his crew of 12, singling out Andy Wescott, whose support, he said, was "unbelievable."

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