There’s a new village in town. Passing along Fontabelle it’s hard to miss it: where the chattel houses are being erected.
The Village Experience is the brainchild of building contractor Eric Springer, who wanted to bring a new experience to the Bajan populace and give tourists and returning nationals something to look forward to.
“Everyone was talking about culture everywhere I turned; so I decided to bring culture to Spring Garden. By listening to people talk, especially a lot of returning nationals and tourists, I gathered that this type of thing is what they come to Crop Over to see, but when they get here, all they see are white tents.
“But they love Barbados; and they will keep coming.
“So hearing their stories, I said to myself, if I could do a village and find somewhere to put it, it would be great. So then I got this location. I was introduced to the CEO of Kensington through a friend of mine and I showed him what I wanted to do with it, and he asked me if I could really get it done.
“I told him I could get anything done. And so said, so done! After six months, look at what we have here,” Springer said with pride.
The contractor added that he had also decided to go ahead with the idea because it was time to start catering to the older population.
“There’s enough entertainment for young people. We’re catering to the people who have no place to go, and whom no one else caters for – who are like in their 40s and up; the more aged people.
“If other people come, they will come and fit in; but we are catering for the grown folks.”
The village has not yet been officially launched, but it is already a hit with tourists and locals alike.
“We have not started to advertise yet with flyers and [other media], because we are still going through some things. But with the small advertising that we have been doing by word of mouth, everyone who comes into the village is blown away by it. The reception has been lovely,” Springer explained.
“We are hoping to do a launch of it for November – on Independence Day; hoping that it will be an open family day event. There’s still a lot of planning to do. We are still working to make sure the village feels like an actual village,” he said.
“Right now,” says Springer, “we have Fantastic Fridays, and karaoke on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights. We have only been operating for eight weeks and it has been going great. We also have plans to do an Open Mic Night on Thursdays.”
But adds the man behind it all: “We still have to sit and put our heads together and come up with other ideas and events for later in the year, and into next year.”
Visit the village, and you would think you were passing through your grandparents’, or even parents’ neighbourhood from back in the day. The village features too the Bus Stop, complete with a seat, and domino tables among the chattel houses. But, according to Springer, there are plans for much more.
“There is still a lot of art work to be done. More domino tables have to go in, another bus shelther; a standpipe still has to go in; hopscotch drawing . . . .
“We actually operate like a village, because there’s one who sells all the sweets and pastries and Bajan treats you hardly find anywhere else. Then there is one who does all Bajan food and a soft bar. And then I do more grilled and seafood stuff from my own stall.
“We try not to have people in the village doing the same things. And then we support each other as well,” he said.
Springer is encouraging all Bajans –– old and young –– to “come and see what the village is offering. Not just food and drinks, but fun and games –– and a vast amount of culture”.
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