It only took the arrival of Will Francis's flatbed truck at Prince George's Community College in Largo yesterday to explain why a scaled-down Caribbean festival was better than no festival at all.

Stacked with loudspeakers playing a version of Calypso music called Soca, Francis's truck led a procession of about a hundred bobbing, costumed Caribbean dancers and swaying festival-goers through a short tunnel to the festival grounds in a large courtyard in the middle of the college campus.

"Any chance to keep the Caribbean culture alive and share it with Americans is worth it," said Francis.

The festival almost didn't come off this year because organizers could not afford to post a bond required by U.S. Park Service officials to help defray cleanup and security costs for a downtown site, according to festival spokesman John Blake.

Organizers hastily arranged to move the festival to the community college grounds after being approached by Prince George's police Sgt. Rafael Hylton, a Panamanian native. Hylton is a community relations officer for the department.

"We thought Prince George's would be a fitting location because the Caribbean community has been growing in size here," Blake said.

He estimated that as many as 100,000 Caribbeans live in the Washington area, 30,000 in Prince George's County.

Organizers said that the change in venue occurred too late to publicize the festival adequately this year and the date scheduled -- the first day of fall -- is not the ideal time for a festival billed as a "Caribbean Summer in the Park '90."

"Not only that but you have the first Redskins-Dallas game today," said Prince George's police Cpl. Roberto Hylton, Rafael Hylton's brother.

Most festival-goers didn't seem to mind the scaled-down affair. They were entertained throughout the day by several bands. And a dozen Caribbean food and craft stalls were set up around the courtyard.

"We're hoping that eventually this festival can be used to wake up a sleeping community," said Blake, who hosts a Caribbean music radio show. "A lot of us live here with the mentality that we're going to go back {to the Caribbean} someday. We tend not to get involved in community affairs, and as a result people don't benefit from the taxes they pay."