San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Festival to Take Calypso Legend’s Name

A festival created in honor of Costa Rican calypso legend Walter “Mr. Gavitt” Ferguson will be celebrated July 5 to 18 in his hometown of Cahuita, on the southern Caribbean coast.

Organized by various groups in Cahuita, including the community’s Integrated Development Association, the first Walter Ferguson Culture and Environment Festival will honor Ferguson, 91, with a celebration of music and the arts.

Reached by phone at the hotel his family runs in Cahuita, Ferguson called the festival “nothing special.” Still, his daughter, René Ferguson, said he’s honored by all the people who enjoy his music.

“People come here and see him, and he’s very happy (when they do),” she said. “They like his music. He would talk to people. People always have a lot of questions.”

The pinnacle of the celebration will be a special calypso concert June 10 at the Parque Central de Calypso, according to a schedule listed on the festival’s website,

The festival will open July 5 with music and performances by acrobatic theater group Metamórfosis. Bicicleta, a children’s theater group, will perform a version of “Jack and the Beanstalk.” The event also will host poetry and writing workshops.

In 2006, Ferguson talked to The Tico Times about how calypso has changed over the decades (TT, July 28, 2006).

“We have some different set of people now, because the young ones are different ways as my old-time people,” Ferguson said in his lilting Caribbean English. “Many of the old ones die out. So we have mixed ones, foreigners and strangers and things, so what we had when I was young is not what we have today.”

The Fergusons are not involved in organizing the festival. And at his age, Ferguson won’t be able to attend the festival, his daughter said. But with the events taking place so close to the family’s Sol y Mar Hotel, Ferguson said they will definitely take a peek outside at the festivities.

Ferguson is best known for his calypso songs like “Cabin in the Wata,” “Callaloo” and “Carnaval Day.” His last album, “Dr. Bombodee,” was released in 2004.

Contact Matt Levin at

Comments are closed.