–as hundreds descend on Linden to savour its simple pleasures
THE curtains came down Monday on the annual Linden River-Front Festival after four hectic days of fun activities with a regatta and family fun-day.
The two events drew crowds from all over Guyana to witness and participate in the water sports and other recreational activities.
Persons travelled to Linden by boat through the Demerara River from Georgetown, as well as from villages further upriver, to take part in the annual event which aims at showcasing the beauty and diversity of the Linden river-front.
Good weather allowed for water lovers to indulge in several competitive events such as the fishing, swimming, speed-boat and the kayaking competitions.
And for those who were not into competing, water rides were available with the kayaking and well as speed boats. Good music permeated the atmosphere, bringing the cool afternoon alive for party lovers, while children enjoyed rides and other family-oriented activities.
Most important about the day’s activities, however, was the highlight of the plethora of uses the Upper Demerara River has, since the intent is to transform it into an aqua-tourism hub for Linden.
The festival brought patrons from all walks of life to get a glimpse of the calming treacle-coloured beauty which meanders her way through the town, literally dividing it into east and west. This is the fourth year the festival has been held, and each year, the support and appreciation for the grandeur of the river gets greater.
This will be a big boost for Linden’s tourism, something that was discussed at length by major stakeholders in Linden at the Linden River-Front Forum that was held on Friday. Participating for the first time in the Festival was the recently-established Linden-based tour operator, Kara Kayaking Adventures.
Member of the company, Deon Anderson said that the demand was so overwhelming for them to be a part of the festival, that they made it their duty to be a part of the day’s proceedings.
“We are happy to launch our couple’s package of the river tour, which is also available for groups as well,” Anderson said. He believes that the beauty of the Demerara River should be exploited to its fullest.
And what better way to do that than by boat. “You get to observe the life of the creek, the villages along the way, plus a lunch stop at one of the private gardens along the creek to be treated to some roasted meat and local beverage, along with other experiences,” he said.
Founding and executive member of the Linden River-Front Festival, Samuel Wright is optimistic that this year’s activities with drive home to all and sundry that the river is one of Linden’s best bets to the development of the tourism industry.
MUCH TO OFFER
Wright, who is also an environmentalist, believes that the river-front should be developed and maintained, since it is home to such major stakeholders as churches, schools, the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LMTC), the municipal market, boat services, clubs and restaurants.
“If you want to get a sense of what Linden’s river-front is all about,” he said, “all you need do is take a good look; all the important things of Linden are there, so it should be developed.
“This festival is an attempt to bring people’s attention to the river-front; its purpose is to showcase and develop the river-front.”
Wright said that this is very important for the development of Linden’s tourism industry. The development of the river-front commenced years ago with the initiating of the River-Front Development Project. This saw the construction of the Egbert Benjamin Centre and the construction of a boardwalk on the river-front.
Wright believes that had the project gotten more support from the leaders, it would have come a long way by now.
“The river-front never really got the whole-hearted support from the key players, but we kept doing it anyway,” he said, adding that given the vast expanse of the river-front, there is need for a massive and thorough strategised plan.
“We can do all kinds of things on the river-front; restaurants, fishing piers…
“There are so many stakeholders on the river-front,” he said, “no one group should be deciding what happens on it. Let’s sit and decide how we will develop it; we are looking to form the river front alliance.”
Wright said that the development of the river-front is not just about recreation but tourism, economics and even religion.
Back in April, President David Granger during a visit to Linden told Lindeners that he desires to see the river-front developed. He said, “I would like to see all of these waterfronts develop, so that young people could go strolling at night safely; with solar lights, good food, music…
“I would like to see this western shore like a boulevard; every town in Guyana must have a boulevard, full of beautiful trees so that young people can enjoy the environment.”
GOOD FOR TOURISM
Noting that developing the Linden waterfront is good for tourism, the president went on to say: “Visitors will always remember the black water of the Demerara River.”
Taking up this call was Minister of Natural Resources Simona Broomes, who is pushing for the development of the Linden river-front, and has even shared with regional officials a blueprint of what it could look like.
According to Minister Broomes, by developing the Linden waterfront, not only will the municipality be able to rake in revenue from booth holders, but the main beneficiaries will be the citizens at the grassroot level seeking empowerment.
“It is a whole vision in terms of opportunities; it is a lot,” she said, adding:
“It must be a clear vision, not just building some place and putting some people in it. It’s about bigger growth and development for Linden; it’s creating opportunity for businesses in Linden.”
Warming to the topic, Minister Broomes said that persons will be able to sell their locally-made art and craft; small-scale cooks can be able to establish their businesses; smoothie, icecream and confectionery vendors can set up shop; and young fashion designers can have an outdoor showroom.
On the Wismar shore, where the business atmosphere is somewhat bleak, Minister Broomes said that developing the river-front on that side of the river can revitalise the Wismar business community, including the Wismar Municipal Market.
“I see it as really opening up a lot of opportunities,” she said. “There is a market there; for business in the market, it will bring back that life, because the traffic in the area will develop.
Such development, the minister stressed, is giving power to the local people, and therefore consultation will be held with the residents of Linden in relation to their choice of design, name and other logistics.