While the heat was evident on and off the stage at Soca Royale, that comprises the Sweet Soca and Party Monarch competitions, some vendors left with a sweet taste in the mouth; others with the bitter.
As patrons partied to some of the sweet tunes served up at one of the biggest events on the Crop Over calendar, they were minded to spend some money to ensure their hunger and thirst were satisfied –– that they remained hydrated.
Sno-cones were everywhere. Water and other beverages were in abundance; and so was food: from cou cou and flying fish to hot dogs, or just the simple snacks. And the heat from the afternoon sun drove scores to purchase umbrellas.
And flags were also on sale for those who wanted to show national pride.
Veteran vendor Roger Goodridge, known for walking through crowds selling whistles, glow sticks, and sun shades at national events, said while he had seen better sales in previous years, he would not say this year’s Soca Royale crowd wasn’t good to him. Just halfway into the show his umbrellas and shades were almost sold out.
“Sales not like previous years; but people buying. I get sales because I bring the things the people need. The people need umbrellas because the sun hot. The people want the shades because the sun hot. The people want the whistles to keep some noise when the people performing on stage. When night come now, I will go through the crowd with the glow lights,” Goodridge said.
Edwin Carter, who was selling flags of various Caribbean countries, said that while most years it was easy for him to make $500 very quickly, “for some reason I didn’t get that done this year”.
Added Carter: “I don’t know if the people were not up to showing national pride with the flags this year, but this is my hustle. So next year I will be back to do what I have to do. But I will be back at Bushy Park on Thursday for Soca Titans to sell my flags because that is usually a good event.”
This was young sno-cone vendor Jonathan Wiggins’ first time selling sno-cones at the event, and he indicated that it would definitely not be his last . . . . People want mostly the coconut sno-cone, but everybody calling for everything today. By the end of the day I hope to make a good set of money and hopefully I should be back next year,” Wiggins said.
Collin “The Nut Man”, with a box of packaged grapes and cherries on his head, and holding a bag of nuts, was smiling through the crowd as patrons called out to him to come where they were stationed.
Dancing to the same beat as “The Nut Man” were workers at a bar, who told of the sale of alcohol and other beverages being satisfying.
The food at the Cou Cou Village, operated by the Sons Of God Apostolic Spiritual Baptist Church, must have been quite delectable, because, according to officials there, from early in the morning until way into the evening they had been kept preparing food to meet customer demand.
“Sales not bad. People buying the cou cou and salt fish, sea cat, rice and stew, or chips . . . . I went home at 3 a.m and come back at five because we started selling before seven. The marshals and other people that come in to work the show come asking for food from early,” explained Andrea Blackman, one of the leaders at the Village.
Throughout the day, the well behaved crowd, that started gathering from before 11 a.m. with picnic baskets and chairs to secure vantage points, enjoyed what the event had to offer, as the artistes pulled out all the stops to deliver their grand performances.
The Barbados TODAY team asked a few patrons why they had attended the show. Some said they had come to support a particular artiste, while others just wanted to soak up the atmosphere. But all shared the common view that Soca Royale was one of the best events for the Crop Over season, and they could not miss it.
“I like coming to Soca Royale because of the friendly competition on stage; and I like the fireworks and everything,” a patron who gave her name as Jalissa expressed.
Forty-year-old Kelvin Williams, who has been attending the event when it was held at East Coast under the Party Monarch name, said this year was the first time he had attended Soca Royale in its Bushy Park home.
“I live overseas; so this is the first time in a while that I am back home and I am not at all disappointed. I like the atmosphere and the space and everything. I am enjoying the music in and out of the competition, the food, the people. I love Crop Over,” Williams said.