Plans are already in train for the big changes expected for the 2019 Barbados Crop Over Festival.
Every year the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) is charged with enhancing and revitalising the Crop Over Festival to meet the growing demands of a diverse target audience. Embedded in the changes to these events and concepts is always a narrative of a journey of celebrations, of creativity, of heritage and of our cultural identity, this season presented under the tagline ‘Crop Over Correct’.
The journey begins with the HOTT BAJARAMAs at six locations across the island – the NCF car park, Dover Playing Field, Three Houses Park, and Bridgefield, Belleplaine and Friendship Playing Fields. It is a return to community-oriented events created to build hype in the count down to the official public launch of the Festival. At each BAJARAMA there will be a different focus, to previous years, with community fairs at some venues and friendly celebrity cricket matches at others. This is also the stage where talent is discovered and popular artistes release their new songs for the season.
With decentralisation still high on the agenda, the First Citizens Crop Over Launch and Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes will be heading north to Speightstown, honouring the rich history of this port city and Crop Over in general, while embracing the festival of tomorrow. The intended celebrations will symbolically raise the ‘spirits’ of the Festival with a ritual and recognise ‘the people who came’ in a parade of characters. It will then take the journey from the ceremonial blessing, to a folk and soca imbued party all under the theme of ‘Journey to the Last Cane’.
Interest in our cultural heritage continues to grow nationally, and with the return of the Bridgetown by Night Heritage Walk, the NCF will bring to life a new story of our capital city in the reenactment of a tale of emancipation through entrepreneurship, illuminating the road travelled from creativity and perseverance to wealth and success.
Also, among the major changes is a new direction for the Junior Calypso Monarch programme, taking the competition to an institutional level, by taking it directly into our schools. This initiative is made possible through a partnership with the NCF and the Ministry of Education, Technology and Vocational Training. This change could see more involvement across the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary institutions encouraging a school pride and support, similar to that of the interschool sports.
In the senior level competitions, the Sweet Soca and Party Monarch formerly known as Soca Royale are now one, with a change in name to the MQI/98.1 The One Soca Monarch. With the combination of these two competitions another change will take effect, sixteen (16) finalists including the two reigning monarchs will compete on the final stage. There will be no restrictions on beats per minute, the prize monies have been increased across the board from the winner to the 16th place and a new location for the competition at the National Botanical Gardens.
In addition, perhaps the biggest change for the season, with respect to the competitions is the Courtesy Pic-O-De-Crop with the elimination of the semi-final round. Sixteen finalists plus one reserve will be selected, at the tent judging, to face the reigning Monarch, singing one song of their choice for either a Nissan X-Trail SUV or $100,000 cash. The cash prizes in this competition have also been increased throughout.
To switch things up a little for the pan experience, there is an entire weekend of Caribbean sounds complete with a Pan Yard Lime at the NCF’s Headquarters on the Friday evening; a different venue for Massy Pan Pun de Sand which will be a paid event at Daiquiri Beach on the Sunday; and a new name with an enhanced concept for First Citizens Fusions, the premier pan event at Ilaro Court on the Saturday night.
Bridgetown Market will be getting another revamp including a new layout that could also have an impact on the climax and spectacle at Republic Bank Grand Kadooment, ensuring that the bands can once again parade along the entire stretch of the Spring Garden Highway adding to that road viewing experience. Where else in the region does the climax of the carnival take place along miles of a beautiful beach – only in Barbados.
These are but some of the many changes to the events on the NCF’s Crop Over calendar that are designed to maintain the Festival’s global appeal. Crop Over correct is not just a slogan for the NCF but it is the reason for being, it is a state of mind, it is everything and its success will only be possible with the support of the nation.