In concert at the WCMF, Michele Henderson
In concert at the WCMF, Michele Henderson

The excitement surrounding the 23rd staging of the World Creole Music Festival (WCMF) in Dominica has seemingly been tempered by a wave of disappointment from patrons who feel let down by the choice of headlining artists and a ticket price increase.

The WCMF has a long history of featuring top-tier acts, drawing crowds from far and wide. This year, though, many festival-goers had high expectations that needed to be met.

Usual attendee Sarah Lewis expressed her disappointment, saying, "I've been attending the World Creole Music Festival for years, and the lineup used to be stellar. I expected to see some big names this year, but that is not the case."

"I've been coming to the World Creole Music Festival for the past seven years, and I've always left feeling exhilarated by the performances," St. Lucian Janet Thompson wrote. "This year, I was excited to see who they had in store for us, but when I saw the lineup, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. It's not that the artists aren't talented, but most of them have performed on several occasions. This is not the festival that many have come to love."

Another point of contention among festival-goers is the increase in ticket prices. The WCMF has historically been affordable, allowing many music lovers to attend. However, this year's price hike –$400 at the end of the promotional rate– raised eyebrows and concern.

"More money for recycled artiste," said Ronald Pierre, a loyal attendee voiced. "With the ticket prices this year, the festival is becoming a luxury many can't afford. The essence of WCMF has always been accessibility, especially for locals, and this change goes against that principle."

Janet Baptiste, a WCMF fanatic, remarked, "I've always cherished this event for its affordability, cultural richness and diversity in acts. But with the recent price hikes, it's becoming increasingly difficult to attend, considering the state of the economy. I hope organizers reconsider their pricing strategy."

Another patron, Mark Lugay, shared a similar sentiment, "I understand the festival may face challenges with booking artists due to various factors, but this year's lineup is simply underwhelming given the price increase."

Additionally, excluding some local artists has added to the growing list of grievances.

Local Bouyon artiste Kenny "Kenny G" Jno Baptiste has called his fans to boycott the festival given the non-inclusion of the "nasty business" artiste.

"We going all over the world in all festival it have, and our own country don't want us in their festival, let's make a big event on one of the nights and boycott that festival," he declared.

While the disappointment is palpable among some patrons, festival organizers have explained that they aimed to diversify the lineup to appeal to a broader audience while still showcasing Creole influences.

According to the organizers, the 23rd staging of the WCMF emphasizes patriotism and culture, coinciding with the 45th anniversary celebrations of the nation's independence. The three-day festival, themed 'Legacy', pays homage to past festivals.

It is scheduled for October 27 - 29, 2023, at the Windsor Park Sports Stadium in Roseau.

While the disappointment over artist selection and ticket prices lingers, the WCMF remains a highlight on Dominica's cultural calendar, and many still eagerly anticipate the celebration.

Optimistic Melissa Thomas, an avid supporter of the event, averred, "WCMF has a special place in our hearts, and while we may not agree with all the changes or the artiste selection, we'll continue to come together to celebrate what is ours. That sense of unity is what makes this festival truly special."

The nightly lineup is as follows: October 27- night one- Popcaan, Michelle Henderson, DJ Stackz, Vayb, Triple K International, Patrice Roberts, and the A team.

Night two performers are Beres Hammond, Gordon Henderson, Asa Banton, Joe Boy, Ezra D' Fun Machine, Jiggy, Tabou Combo, Joelle Ursull, Njie Jean Luc Guanel and Medhy Custos.

On the final night, October 29, Machel Montano, Jada Kingdom, Signal Band, Midnight Groovers, and Extasy Band will hit the stage.