The official start of the Crop Over Festival is fast approaching and today, Monday, June 15 the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), alongside its new title partner First Citizens, launched the Crop Over City Fest & Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes outside of the Bank’s Broad Street branch with pomp and pageantry.
First Citizens is no stranger to the Festival, with a strong focus on heritage, they made their foray into Crop Over as a major supporter of the Bridgetown by Night Heritage Walk and stayed the course with the NCF for the past two years from the conceptualisation to the repeated implementation of that event.
Now in 2015, they have recommitted to another partnership with the NCF, increasing their level of involvement, this time on the second year of the Crop Over City Fest.
Mr. Cranston Browne, Chief Executive Officer of the NCF, welcomed First Citizens on board as the new sponsor and thanked them for their continued show of confidence in the Crop Over Festival brand.
In his address to an audience of mainly First Citizens officials, media and its customers in the banking hall, Mr. Browne mentioned that with a heavy focus on the development of the cultural industries and on the cultivation of cultural tourism products as emerging economic alternatives, many developing nations like ourselves have been centring their attentions on the significant contribution of Festivals, to the whole cultural and economic growth of their local communities. Tying the Festivals and/or its related events to historical and cultural themes like this year’s City Fest tagged “Sugar then; Sweetness Now!’’ can create an opportunity for the Foundation to attract both locals and visitors alike who are in the market for these types of cultural/heritage tourism packages.
These events steeped in the traditions and remembrances of the Plantation yard, juxtaposed with activities of a contemporary flair, ensure that the sweet stories of our heritage remain at the forefront of the minds of locals and visitors, all-the-while paving the future with a layer of legacy for the younger generation.
Mr. Browne also added his voice to the ongoing debate about the significance of the recognition of the King and Queen of the crop, reminding the public that the Crop Over story is also one of the preservation of our heritage and there is therefore still a need to protect the ceremonial aspects, with or without the harvesting of a sugar crop.
The concept of this City Fest was birthed in 2014 to reignite the excitement for the event and it brought the official opening back home to its original roots. The NCF CEO noted that those who ventured into the historic city space for City Fest last year could attest to its success, with unprecedented numbers converging on this UNESCO World Heritage Property Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison. He went on to say that few events hosted in the city and its environs can boast of this achievement and that the wheels were already in motion to ensure that this year’s First Citizens Crop Over City Fest and Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes will surpass that of 2014.
Mr. Browne expressed his disappointment from a commercial perspective, remarking on the missed opportunity for many of the merchants and vendors in and around the city and its environs, who unfortunately did not take advantage of the access to the large target audience afforded them either on the day of or in the days following. One of the objectives of this event included its ability to attract a large audience that could in turn allow the merchants to generate revenue from targeting this captive market and on that goal Mr. Browne said that the NCF delivered!
He again called for those merchants, small or large, who have not already come on board, to consider the benefits of doing so through their own promotions to attract persons into their stores and restaurants during this year’s First Citizens Crop Over City Fest and Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes.
In closing. Mr. Browne recognised the contribution of all the Foundation’s committed sponsors, without whom their efforts to sustain this successful Festival package as a viable cultural tourism offering, would not be possible.
At the launch, Jennifer Walker entertained the staff and customers in the banking hall with her dramatic piece “Ode to the Cane Cutter,” before leading the party onto Broad Street for a cultural presentation by Dancin’ Africa.