With corporate interest fading this year Mashramani 2009 got off to a slow start and events are rolling out with little or no publicity, but interest will likely peak this weekend when Carib crowns a new soca monarch and the calypso tempo hits fever pitch.

Reigning calypso monarch Young Bill Rogers defends his title tonight at Thirst Park against a field strong with serious and hilarious social commentary, while local performers Shelly G and Roger ‘Brains’ Hassell lead a contingent of soca artistes into the final tomorrow night.

Culture Minister, Dr Frank Anthony said the celebrations are progressing and that “things are picking up”. His expectations for the February 23 float parade are high despite the fact that fewer bands will be on the road owing to the lack of interest shown by corporate Guyana.

Setbacks aside, Anthony said, his ministry has partnered with the Hits and Jams mash camp among others interested in the festivities to take Mash 2009 to a different level. But, the collaboration with Hits and Jams is major since the entertainment crew is rolling out a string of mash events culminating with a jouvert party and a mega-concert featuring US entertainer T-Pain.

Anthony acknowledged that Mash has failed to attract the kind of corporate support it is used to getting, and pointed to the importance of such sponsorship during a press briefing with the media earlier this week. He said Mash offers businesses the unique opportunity to identify with a national festivity that draws thousands of persons from across the country.

“….what better advertising is there than putting a little investment in Mash and participating in a festival that captures in a very broad way the spirit of the Guyanese people?” Anthony asked rhetorically.

However, he declared government is behind the celebrations in full and has budgeted $40 million for the event. Anthony made the point that Mash will always be heavily financed by the government because it is an important national festival. Still, he noted that Mash would be unable to grow stronger if the local businesses fail to support it.

Kerwin Bollers of Hits and Jams affirmed that they are ready to take things to another level. Within a few weeks Hits and Jams has managed to secure partnerships with the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) company and BK International, and is set to unleash a 500-strong band for the costume and float parade

“We have been ready for Mash a long time now and have been planning various things. Now going we are just going through the paces leading up the big concert on Mash day itself,” Bollers said.

He said that international star T-Pain will arrive in Guyana on the morning of the concert while Jamaican artiste Serani, also set to perform, will be here at the same time. Bollers said the mega concert is expected to be “the best”. According to Bollers, the public can expect a great show.

Further, he said that GT&T plans to hold a series of promotions in the lead-up to the Mash celebrations, particularly to reward customers with tickets for Hits and Jams Mash related activites, in addition to costumes for the float parade.

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