The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) will on June 7 take its Heritage product into a different realm from a walk to a bus tour otherwise known as “Sweet Stories of Sugar Molasses and Rum.” The decision to further develop the product came about as a result of the continued interests locally, regionally and internationally in our Heritage Tourism package.
Ms. Alison Sealy-Smith, the Producer of the Crop Over Heritage Bus Tour said, “Heritage tours have established themselves as viable cultural tourism products the world over. As Barbados seeks to position itself as a leader in an increasingly competitive world tourism market, more and more our culture and heritage will need to become our strongest selling point. Many destinations can boast of sea, sand and sun but none of them have our unique people and stories.”
The objectives of the NCF and its partners at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) are:
1. To produce a brand new heritage activity for Crop Over;
2. To launch a viable new cultural tourism product capable of sustaining itself outside of the Festival;
3. To build on the success of the Bridgetown by Night Heritage Walk by widening the physical parameters and enhancing the dramatic elements of the tour.
Ms. Sealy-Smith added, “We focussed on these two commodities sugar and rum since they are the reason that we even exist in this space and they have both played a pivotal, foundational role in shaping the contours, commerce and character of Barbados and Bajans.”
This heritage tour, in air-conditioned coaches provided by our partners at Foster and Ince and Sun Tours, will reveal everything you have ever wanted to know about the production of sugar and its most important by-product – Rum! The facts and figures about the growth, manufacture, trade and consumption will be shared by knowledgeable guides working with an information-packed script written by the erudite Professor Henderson Carter. At the heart of this culturally enhanced tour will be the exciting personalities and stimulating stories that have become a hallmark of the Crop Over Heritage Walks of the last 3 years. Planters and rum shop proprietors; slaves, ancestral spirits and no-good scallywags will all be brought to life by some of the island’s best performers including Tony Thompson, Patrick Foster,
John Walcott, Sarah Venable, Toni Anne Johnson and Dyrstra Browne.
Prepare to be enthralled by stories of love, death, resistance and redemption as we travel from docks to distilleries, great houses to graveyards, from factories to that peculiar fun found only in Bajan rum shops.
This 3 ½ hour tour will leave the BTI car park in Cavan’s Lane and head to various plantations and other sites across the island, returning to its original starting point – Blackwoods Screw Dock.
There will be two tours with staggered start times, one at 1:00 p.m. and the other at 2:00 p.m. Each tour of approximately 300 people will head out in a convoy of 8 buses.
In detailing the tour, Ms. Sealy-Smith noted that in Cavan’s Lane, patrons will witness the heartbreaking spectacle of the arrival of labour from Africa. At Sunbury Plantation House they will see rum dollars at work as the dancers put on a command performance at the “Plantation Party for One.” At Four Square Rum Distillery there will be a guided tour and tastings as patrons learn the “Art of Making Rum.” On the tour there will also be a visit to the Newton Burial Ground where the connection of this reverent site to the Sweet Stories of Sugar, Molasses and Rum will be revealed as we pay tribute and homage to the spirits of our ancestors. The penultimate stop will be the Olde City Bar rum shop on the way back to the place where the labour arrived and the exports left, concluding with a tour of the museum at the Screw Dock, the only dock of its kind remaining in the world.
At each of the stops patrons will be treated to theatrical installations which provide the visceral, emotive corollary to the information being given. This tour is not just about learning our history and heritage, but also about feeling and experiencing facets of our past that are central to our very identity.