Breaking with tradition
For the first time in its 78-year history, the Red Cross Fair will be held at a new location and take place over two days.
The fair will be held April 6-7 at Clifford Park, the first new venue after seven decades at the Government House grounds.
“We are re-imagining the Red Cross Fair, retaining the best of the traditional fair with food and games and crafts and more, but adding new elements that create excitement and appeal to people of all ages,” said Caroline Turnquest, Bahamas Red Cross director general.
“If you attended the fair in the past, you won’t recognize it this year,” she said.
Recently appointed co-chair Dwayne Heastie is credited with bringing the vision of a more contemporary and modern approach to the fair.
The fair opens at noon on Saturday and runs until midnight, with music throughout the evening, including performances by Geno D, Sammy Star, Rick Carey, Dyson Knight, the Spank Band, Rhythm Band, Sonovia Pierre, Osano Neely and Funky D. Both the Royal Bahamas Police Band and Royal Bahamas Defence Force Band will perform with the defense force expecting to perform a musical tribute to Sir Sidney Poitier that it wrote for his recent 92nd birthday.
A full slate of gospel music is also scheduled, with live performances expected by Shabak, the Bishop Denzil Rolle Ensemble, Ricardo Clarke, Pastor Trent Davis Ensemble, Karrington McKenzie, DJ Councellor, Clement Penn and Ayanna Clarke.
Junkanoo groups are also scheduled to perform on Saturday.
“This is the largest call of live entertainers in our history,” said Heastie.
In keeping with its promise of doing things differently this year, the organizers of the Bahamas Red Cross Fair have teamed up with SunCash to introduce technology in the form of digital ticketing for this year’s event. With the services of SunCash’s SunPass system, patrons are able to purchase tickets in advance, online or in store at any SunCash location. With this latest advancement, the most anticipated charity fundraising event of the year has officially moved into the digital age.
“We are thrilled to be using the service,” said Turnquest. “Not only will we be able to accurately account for funds raised to assist in charitable projects around the country, [but] our fairgoers now have a convenient option to purchase their tickets in advance.”
Customers purchasing tickets via SunPass in advance, will also be able to bypass the line at the gate and access the fair via the “express lane” for immediate entry.
“We have used great technology to provide a secure platform that delivers for our event organizers transparency, real-time transaction notifications and online debit/credit card payment processing,” said Desmond Pyfrom, CEO at SunCash.
“For the public it provides efficient and secure advanced purchase of tickets. It reduces wait times for fairgoers attending the event and eliminates the need to travel with excess cash — an added security. Additionally, for the fair organizers, it offers solid accounting for ticket sales and a way to measure fair attendance. Considering the Bahamas Red Cross Society’s ongoing contribution to our community, we were more than delighted to provide this service.”
The digital ticket, which can be purchased on RedCross.mysuncash.com, notifies the customer in real time of the purchase and provides a ticket that can be scanned via mobile device or printed for presentation at gate. Cash-based purchases can also be made at any of the 13 SunCash locations throughout New Providence. A mobile app (SunCash) available in the Google Play Store and App Store for Android and IOS devices provides another option for ticketing. Ticket prices for the fair are $10 for adults and $5 for children.
The fair is the Bahamas Red Cross’ largest fundraiser, which Turnquest said provides assistance to almost every facet of the Bahamian community.
“We count on this event every year to help us maintain our feeding programs, provide assistance to those displaced because of unforeseeable events or natural disaster. There is almost no facet of the Bahamian community that we do not touch in some way, whether through emergency assistance, temporary housing, tents, blankets, canned goods, even emotional support when fire or other tragedy hits and people have nowhere else to turn. That is when the Red Cross is there for them, and we could not do what we do or provide the services we provide without the revenue generated by the annual Red Cross Fair,” she said.
She said corporate sponsors provide much of the funding that keeps the organization heavily dependent upon volunteers operational.
“We are tremendously appreciative to corporate Bahamas,” said Turnquest. “But we also want the general public to appreciate all we do, and that is where the fair comes in. So, we are going to take the Bahamas Red Cross Fair, which has long been a part of everyone’s calendar, and turn it on its heels, making it the most fantastic cultural event of the season.”
Exanna Dormeus, fair co-chair, said the fair will also differ from past events in the way of sponsorship and vendor engagement.
“For the first time, we have had the Ministry of Tourism come onboard as a sponsor, because they recognize the opportunity this presents for visitors to interact with locals and to enjoy the Bahamian entertainment, culinary and cultural experience,” said Dormeus. Another first, according to Dormeus, is that vendors will be allowed to purchase booth spaces for a nominal fee and retain 100 percent of their proceeds. In the past, donations were split with the Bahamas Red Cross and the booth rentals were at no charge.
Other major sponsors of this year’s fair include Coca-Cola, Digiprint, Bahama Waste, Generali and J.S. Johnson.