Fiesta Sri Aman

Then Came The Wind...

Anyone has ambitions to be an Event Manager? Most of the jobs that occupy our duties are event management. Pesta, Carnivals, Exhibitions, Launching ceremonies.... you name it, by the time I am about to retire I guess I could turn to being an Event organiser. But it has its ups and downs. The recent Fiesta Perayaan 45 Tahun Dalam Malaysia held on 28 to 30 November 2008 - Sri Aman Level almost broke my spirit if not for the 'agi idup agi ngelaban' or never give up attitude of our members involved in the Fiesta coordination.

Five minutes of strong wind and everything can go down the drain ~ or over the fence

Three Days Before

The Resident Office was all set to give the Sri Aman folks a grand fiesta in conjunction with the Sarawak 45 Years in Malaysia Celebration. Decos were up, the Organising Committees were making a last minute check. Everything went well... so we thought. One lesson for event managers - never discount bad weather, especially a real mean weather. As Hamidah says - the force of the same line as our former Samy tune - "itu semua Kuasa Tuhan". So one thing that potential event managers need to equip themselves when they do outdoor events - you must pray very very hard for good weather.

Sri Amanians were looking forward to the Fiesta

The grand images of the canopies lined the bitumen atheletics track of the Exhibition site

Some of the exhibitors had started their work on setting up thier show panels

The Pejabat Pelajaran Gabungan (PPG or Education Department) booth was unique in its own way - aimed to drive across the message of development of education in Sri Aman

26 November 2008 - A Significant Date

As events were unfolding on 26th November 2008 in Mumbai, India - the sign must have been in the occurrence of freak weather that wreaked havoc in Sri Aman on the same date. An urgent phone call from Miss Annliza alerted me about the incident. 'The tents have collapsed' - that was her message. I did notice the strong wind outside my office and I had thought that it was not that serious. When I reached the Exhibition site, I was speechless. It was as if a Tornado had struck the exhibition site.

Crikey! The tents had not only 'collapsed' - they were totally blown away

One of the canopies was stuck on a tree

A closer look - This canopy is totally out of action

Canopies that were not strongly bound to any supporting structures flew into the middle of the football field

What once was a majestic row of canopies is now a row of shattered iron and canvas

This one 'jumped' over the femce (background is the Abang Aing Primary School)

The Civil Defence was quick to respond and I have to salute these guys and ladies as they cleared up the debris

Its sad to see the hard work of some of the exhibitors destroyed in the incident

24 Hours To Launch

In consultation with the Resident, the Organising Secretariat immediately summoned the suppliers of the destroyed canopies and also the affected exhibition participants. We had our contigency plans executed and managed to source some extra tents all the way from Kuching within a span of 24 hours. Everyone chipped in, the incident did not damper our efforts to put up a good show for our Sri Amanian folks who have been looking forward to it.

The replacement tents and equipment arrived within hours of the incident and ready to be put up again the next morning

Our Urusetia (Secretariat) banner rose over the new canopy sets and as can be seen the cars in the background saw the various exhibition participants setting up their showcases to catch up with the loss in time

The almost destroyed Pejabat Pelajaran Gabungan (PPG) canopy was up and ready for the second time - most of their materials had to be retrieved from the middle of the field as it was totally blown away

The pretty dolls of the Medical Department and Sri Aman Hospital canopy

Launch Day: Zero Hour

The opening ceremony was started off with a War Dance by the Regimen Askar Melayu DiRaja Ke 13 of Kem Pakit, Sri Aman

The opening ceremony of the event was officiated by the Deputy Chief Minister, YB Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang together with all the local Members of Parliament and Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri of Sri Aman Division. A special guest was the Deputy Minister for Wanitam Keluarga & Masyarakat YB Puan Noriah Kasnon (in blue)

VVIPs at the grandstand - thier attendance was also a moral support for all of us

Thought the weather started to play havoc again during the launch but the VVIPs showed what they were made of as they too braved the rain for the launching, I discovered I was also the only photographer in the rain in front of the grandstand

The Deputy Chief Minister went to the middle of the launch site (in the heavy rain) to officially unviel the Fiesta Backdrop

Launching was symbolised by the opening of the Backdrop at the Main Celebration Stage opened with the touch of the buttons by the VVIPs

What made the event more significant was when the VVIPs decided to go around the exhibition canopies in the middle of the rain - here YB Datuk Patinggi shows his art skills

The Deputy Chief Minister at the Public Works Department Canopies looking at the progress of Infrastructure Development in Sri Aman Division

YB Datuk Patinggi tries out 'Health Check' at the Medical Department's Canopy

That night - a concert featuring Sri Aman local artises and traditional groups entertained the crowd who turned up in force
The next morning there was a show by the Army on 'Unarmed Combat'

Of course the famous 'Sukan Rakyat' drew a large support base from local Sri Amanians as groups had their own fans. Here the 'Tug of War' champions showing their stuff. They were the winners of the event.

Finally - on Sunday was the prize giving ceremony. There was enough for everyone as the organisers intended this to be everyone's Fiesta.

So the question again - do you wish to be an event manager? There's one lesson that we can all learn from this recent event. True grit is a necessary ingredient for making events successful and this was shown by the Sri Amanians. With almost two third of the exhibition infrastructure in tatters after the 'wind incident'. There was even a call to minimize the 'show' with less exhibition materials. The Resident and myself assured everyone that the show must go on and so they just closed their eyes and started to rebuild. I have to salute the spirit of those in the Committee and their members. In the meantime I am still recovering from the Fiesta, not from the celebrations but the mental stress and challenge of seeing this one through. And of course the sunburn again...ouch.... Thank you all!


nicksuneo said…
OMG! What happen? Wind struck? O o o...
I can't wait to see more photos from you. Hehehe
Pn Hamidah said…
Not screwed up just tested by force of nature.
Tia said…
okay, dont tell me that there was a heavy downpour in Sri Aman that saturday afternoon.... coz we got that here in Kch too, on saturday afternoon.
Pn Hamidah said…
Event managers/organisers still need to reckon and prepare for any eventualities like possible emergency situations like the force of nature or even human induced disaster. Anyway, your amazing and tremendous efforts and mental endurance deserves credit in successfully overcoming adverse situation like this and materializing the fiesta.By the look of it the job of an event manager is too complex and demanding so I would not be inspired by it hahaha..
aku orang biasa said…
bendar ngadu kanopi lantak tornadoo neh... anyway..selamat ari krismas Tuan..
Joe Nyuin said…
Desmond, your story reminded me to the time where Sri Aman was the host to Independence Day in early 90s. It was raining heavily. There was an incident where one parachuter missed the target location.
I get to know what is happening in Sri Aman from you rather than the MSM nowadays.

Thumbs up to you

Mizz Coki said…
thumbs up 4 u.. tau muka event mgt co. nuan ila enti udah pencen au?

so cute lar anak patung ari medical.... (puji diri sendiri) hahahaha... eh, kazen laki ku pan bisi duduk belakang DCM. YB ke biak nya hehehheh.. u noe who.
Amiey Alen said…
kasian la all the canopies and even the organizer...
The wind was really strong. Geee
Coffee Girl said…
I've seen that war dance many times, and yet i never get tired of it! :-)

cant stop the rain man. no point screwing anyone for natural disasters.
cyrildason said…
that must be one hell of a wind!!