… Organizer expresses disappointment for support
At least registered 148 fishermen from Grand Bassa, Margibi, Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount Counties have registered to participate in the first annual Liberia National Canoe Marathon and cultural festival.
According to the event calendar, the 4-day festival commences from Wednesday, January 15, with a canoe marathon from Providence Island to Bushrod Island on the St. Paul River. Thursday will be elimination races, along with a fair and musical concert, followed by final elimination on Friday and, on Saturday, the grand final.
The organizer, Mr. John T. Richardson said they’re doing all they can to get the Liberian Coast Guard on the scene for the safety of the contestants.
Mr. Richardson disclosed that the canoe race will be held in three categories: One-man, two-men and three-men. “The one-man canoe race will take place on Friday on a 280-meter course, while the two- and three-men teams will race over a 440-meter course on the St. Paul River behind the Unity Conference Center in Virginia, on the outskirts of Monrovia.
“We have made an arrangement with The National Canoe Association to provide us canoes so that each participant can have a fair chance during the race events”, Mr. Richardson added.
The event hopes not only to assemble canoe and fishermen from across 13 counties, but will also showcase a positive side of Liberia’s ethnic diversity to the world, through cultural displays, Liberian cuisine, music and dance and canoe skills.
“We’ve decided to do a national fair showcasing the goods of Liberia — the arts, craft, food, and culture. We also inviting vendors to come and exhibit their produce,” Richardson added.
Sounding a clarion call for vendors to participate in the 4-day festival, Richardson said does not matter what vendors are producing, once they are happy and successful at it, “Come and show it to the world, whatever you are doing in Liberia because we will be filming and a magazine will be produced after which we hope to send all over the world.”
When asked whether the event has obtained any support from the Government of Liberia, Mr. Richardson said President George Weah has voiced his full support and even authorized the Minister of Internal Affairs to write numerous ministries to come forward to give their support.
He added that he has contacted senators and relevant agencies of government, including the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) for their support. While waiting for LiMA, he said, NaFAA has already made an initial contribution. Also a contribution has been received from Senator Oscar Cooper.
In his effort to woo sponsors for the event, Mr. Richardson advised that “you don’t have to like the government to support Liberia; we are still looking for sponsors so we can bring participants down to Monrovia because they need to be fed and lodged.”
Some sponsors for the event include NAFAA, Club Beer, CONEX, GEPCO Inc., and Brussels Airlines, among others.
“We’ve been appealing to vendors to just give us — because we want to give the participants souvenirs like buckets, fishing rods, shovels, cutlasses and a t-shirt which I believe is a branding opportunity for businesses in Liberia”, Mr. Richardson said.
The Liberia National Canoe Race is a ten-year annual event hosted by John’s St. Paul Rum, aimed at rebranding its image by showcasing and celebrating the positive side of Liberia.
He thanked the Liberian media that has been very supportive in promoting the event at no cost.