Vendors re-think Carnival participation

Revelers stop for a photo during the 2018 Bahamas Carnival Road Fever march on Saturday.

While Bahamas Carnival attracted thousands of Bahamian revelers and visitors to the festivities, food vendors participating in the event said they operated at a loss over the weekend.

More than 25 vendors had food available for the three-day event and for many like Chef Kevin Culmer, proprietor of Tropical Gyros, gate prices – among other things – deeply affected their bottom line.

“The whole weekend was a loss for me financially,” Culmer told Eyewitness News in an interview.

“My expenses outweighed my revenue and that’s the first time that has ever happened at any event I have ever been at. This year was the worst. More people were interested in drinking than eating because of the ‘revel-type’ style atmosphere.”

Culmer said although the crowd was there, the money was not, and he attributed this loss to the entrance ticket prices.

This year, ticket prices ranged from $15.00 a day to $40.00 for a weekend pass to ‘Da Cultural Village’ in Nassau.

A food vendor since the event’s inception, Culmer urged Bahamas Carnival organisers to, “take in to considerations the type of food being offered at the event for patrons, as there was minimal different options” .

“Eeveryone was selling the same thing,” he said, “chicken, macaroni, and conch fritters.

“I have never been at a function where we have not in essence made money and I make that assessment not from any empirical data, but just by looking at the crowd.

“We are usually the top seller.

“The previous carnival event we would sell 500 to 700 gyros per night. This carnival, we can barely sell 200 gyros over two days.”

With hopes that we would recoup his initial investment on Saturday, Culmer said, he was very disappointed that he made nothing. He said sales at his brick and mortar restaurant far exceeded what he made during the three days at Carnival.

“… My Saturday sales at my restaurant, where people have to drive into Palmdale to attend to my restaurant, are more than the two days combined with the thousands of people out there; so, I know it is not my product.”

Little Laura’s Fruits proprietor Kira Williams, also shared her disappointing experience.

“The first three Carnival events are far better than this one because, after the road parade, the people were able to come and spend money with the vendors. Now there is nothing here,” Williams told Eyewitness News Online.

She said the new organizers need to “go and get the same plan that was used for the first Carnival”, so food vendors can make money.

Williams also told Eyewitness News that she feels this year’s Carnival was more of a “concert” than carnival, explaining that “this year was really rough.”

Additionally, Williams complained “the lighting was poor. Patrons were barely able to see us and no one walked our way to purchase our food.”

Vendors said they are now skeptical about partaking in Bahamas Carnival in the future as they don’t see the viability for them, as stakeholders.