Interview of Chantal Vernusse
Chantal Vernusse, director of Calypso Event, the company that organizes the Tuesdays in Grand Case.
Hello Chantal Vernusse, you are the director of Calypso Event, a company that organizes events.
You organize the Tuesdays in Grand Case (mardis de Grand Case). Can tell us what the Mardis de Grand Case ?
Les Mardis de Grand Case is now 11 years old and takes place in the village of Grand Case. This event is organized by CALYPSO EVENT’s team for the restaurants, lolos, hotels, retailers, exhibitors and Grand Case lovers. The Boulevard de Grand Case becomes pedestrian between 6pm and 70pm. The Mardis de Grand Case always start on the second Tuesday of January and is held every Tuesday for 12 weeks. A large craft market invades each side of the street and there are various entertainments: music bands, dancers, acrobats, carnival parades and many other surprises.
It is not less than 60 crafts and arts stalls and on each side of the street! Alongside the local famous painters there are local artists selling original jewelry made from different metals and precious stones, objects made out of coconut, colorful handmade clothes on the island or beautiful works made from shells or coconut leaves collected on the island beaches.
While walking, you can also come across people of the island selling cakes lovingly prepared or calling you to let you try their coconut sorbet or rum which they alone hold the secret.
Prohibited to cars, tourists and visitors can mingle in a festive atmosphere in Grand Case! Around 19:30pm, with 25 street performers, carnival dancers and musicians parade across the boulevard for 2 hours.
During the Mardis de Grand Case, all shops and restaurants in the village are always full! This is the time for visitors from around the world to discover the cuisine of the world as Grand Case is known to be the "culinary capital» of Saint-Martin and the Caribbean.
We cannot talk about food without talking about our famous "lolos"! These open air eateries are a real attraction, in particular for tourists! In these traditional restaurants, you can enjoy delicious barbecues prepared in front of you on braziers in a endless hubbub of music and talking!
The Mardis de Grand Case is an evening when people come together to the unique sounds, lights and smells of Saint-Martin! It is a melting pot of tourists, locals, adults and children dancing and sharing on the rhythm and sounds of the local bands.
It is a very special moment for me, full of kindness and joy! People mingle, they are happy, they are with their family and they rave during the parades.
You can tell that everyone is happy to be here !
Why did you choose the village of Grand Case to organize this celebration ?
The village of Grand Case has a privileged location as it sits on the seaside. This village was before a fishermen village that once had its moment of glory with the extraction of salt. Homes and businesses have grown so close to the beach that many terraces of some restaurants or cafes sit today on the sand. Not far from the Boulevard de Grand Case, Grand Case Airport provides services with the other Caribbean islands.
At the beginning, it was a handful of merchants and restaurateurs who got together to organize a festival in the village of Grand Case in order to generate traffic around their shops and restaurants. The organization became so important along the years as the event got famous that the committee asked me to take over the organization on year 3. I arrived on the island two years earlier; in France I worked in organizing events for over 20 years so I accepted their offer after taking the opinion of all residents and district council. Even if the tone was actually given by my predecessors, it was a real challenge for me to respect and meet the objectives of the Mardis de Grand Case creators ensuring long life to the event, finding the funds to improve its organization, programming, communicating on the event and bringing a strong and festive identity corresponding to the image of Saint Martin.
This year is the 11th edition of the Mardis de Grand Case. What are the festivities in place?
Like the years before there will be an arts and craft market with more parades, dancers and street entertainment to improve the festive touch.
Along with the carnival dancers and artists from the French and Dutch sides of the island, we will be welcoming a new company of artists-actors created last year who will propose an amazing scenography with fire shows where pirates and jugglers mingle!
From one year to another, the program remains more or less the same but of course there are always surprises! The event took such an extent that today, U.S. travel agencies contact us to know the program and have the dates for the next year! We strive each year to facilitate access to the boulevard and Grand Case!
Projects for the future ?
We would like to expand the festival in its diversity, beyond our borders to make it known in the surrounding islands and even further. Not long ago, we were contacted by different artists association from other islands who would love to come and perform here. We are looking into developing exchanges between the islands. We must take these opportunities into consideration and get the approval of our partners and Grand Case council with whom we still work closely. We now have a definite logo for the Mardis de Grand Case and we have just created a line of t-shirts for the event. We would also like to develop a range of promotional items, postcards and videos of the event that would be sold and available everywhere on the island. While working on these ideas, we hope to see you on January 15th 2013 !
Let the fun begin !
Find more information on the Mardis de Grand case and the 2013 program please visit our website http://www.lesmardisdegrandcase.com