Stickfighting will go on this Carnival season with or without the National Carnival Commission’s (NCC) support.

This is according to founder of the St Mary’s gayelle Brent Hamil­ton, who told the Sunday Express his gayelle will be fine.

This comes after the cancellation of the semi-finals of the national stickfighting competition in Arima on Friday night.

The event was aborted after stickfighters refused to participate unless they were paid their fees from the preliminary round held in Moruga two weeks ago.

Upset the payment wasn’t made upon their arrival at the semis, the stickfighters began to chant “no money, no stick”.

Over an hour later, the show was cancelled and hundreds of patrons were refunded their $100 entrance fee.

Culture Minister Nyan Gadsby-­Dolly said yesterday the issue was the preliminary appear­ance fee cheques were not disbursed before the semis.

“The fighters wanted to have the cheques, and the NCC offered to disburse them (Friday), along with the cash for the fighters’ appearance fees,” she said.

“After discussion, they came to an agreement, that they would take the cash (Friday) and the cheques (yesterday).”

Gadsby-Dolly said in a statement the fighters subsequently demanded an increase in the prize monies and this could not be accommodated on the spot.

A statement from the NCC also said the stickfighters were demanding an increase in prize monies, and as this could not be met, the National Stick Fighting Competition 2020 has been postponed until further notice.

However, speaking with the Sunday Express, Hamilton denied there was any demand for more money.

He said the fighters simply wanted the payments they were owed.

“The stickmen wanted their money one time from the prelims that was kept in Moruga,” he said.

“When they reached up in the semi-finals, they expected to get paid. That is what caused the whole bacchanal. It wasn’t about more money, it’s just that they wanted their cheques.”

Hamilton said he did not know what would happen next as he saw news reports that everything was being put off.

NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters responded briefly to a text message from the Sunday Express to confirm that the stickfighting competition has been cancelled for 2020, saying: “Yes it is.”

‘A mistake on both sides’

Hamilton said yesterday his gayelle would continue to perform in St Mary’s, Moruga, regardless of the NCC’s decision.

Asked if the stickmen were interested in rescheduling the event, he said he could not speak for all, but his gayelle had moved on.

“My gayelle is moving forward in St Mary’s,” he said.

Hamilton nevertheless admitted the situation could have been handled better on the part of the stickmen, saying “it was a mistake on both sides”.

Arima MP Anthony Garcia yes­­terday offered apologies to patrons who would have atten­ded the event and left disappointed.

“It was not the intention of any of the parties involved in the staging of this show to have patrons impacted in this way,” said Garcia.

“As in any performance, there are issues and challenges that may arise and last evening was one such instance.”

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