An event on the Crop Over calendar traditionally known for attracting huge crowds, saw an attendance which was bigger than ever this year.
The turnout at the Bushy Park racing circuit in St Philip last evening for the National Cultural Foundation-produced Soca Royale competition was truly massive and generally well-behaved, despite a few skirmishes.
The view from the media tent showed hardly any walking space in the crowd. This proved quite true as the Barbados TODAY team had difficulty moving around to get a feel of what patrons had to say about the action on stage and the overall atmosphere.
Police Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent David Welch reported that at least 12 000 people were at the venue to witness the keen battle for the Sweet Soca and Party Monarch crowns won by Edwin Yearwood and Lil Rick, respectively.
Event producer Aja told Barbados TODAY the super crowd was the biggest ever to attend the show. He said this may be a good indication that Bajans are beginning to like the Crop Over heat at the racing track.
“This is the seventh year [at Bushy Park] and it surpassed last year. Last year was the biggest and this year now gone pass that. I feel Barbadians are now warming up to Bushy Park since we changed both events to night,” he said.
“In fact, at 6 o’clock, when the Monarchs of the Mas was going on, I thought the crowd had reached its peak and that was the max but by the time the Sweet Soca competition started at seven o’clock, the crowd was much bigger than it was before. And there was no fighting or anything like that. It was a pretty well behaved audience,” the producer added.
The general consensus of patrons is that they had a good time, enjoying the deejay music and also the live performances of their favourite artistes. Whether they came out as families, community and work groups, or alone, the mission was to dance and celebrate the culture.
The fast movement of waistlines could not match the numerous dazzling displays of fireworks. The Bajan love of strong spirits was quite evident as full glasses were seen in the hands of many as they partied the night away.
“I come out to wuk up, have a good time and I can’t wait to hear Marvay sing he song Know The Face. The Monarchs show was good too and my boy Grynner,” remarked Sophia Johnson, who attends the event every year.
A family of ten which came in from the United States to enjoy Crop Over during the country’s 50th anniversary told Barbados TODAY the decision was one they did not regret.
“We decided that we all would come home and bring our children and grandchildren to see what Crop Over is like. Usually I would come but we decided to bring the entire family this time around and they are definitely enjoying it,” said the family matriarch who declined to give her name.
“My granddaughters went to some fete this morning and came back to the hotel and just got ready to come here with us. Look at them, they have not rested since we got here.”
No party event in Barbados is ever complete without good Bajan food being offered for sale. Vendors took the opportunity yesterday to capitalize on brisk sales.
Supervisor at Burger King, Jan Lashley, said the restaurant’s menu had to be adjusted for the event, but they were satisfied with sales. “People coming and buying all the time. As you can see, the staff is busy,” she said.
Pedro Hoyte, a manager at Island Ice, said the company had three outlets at the event this year. It was just after 7 p.m. when he said he hoped the almost 800 large bags and 400 small bags of ice would be sold out.
“The vendors and patrons can’t say they did not have enough ice because we have more than enough. And we all around the venue this year so it is easy for people to get to us wherever they are,” Hoyte said.
Assistant Superintendent Welch said there were no major incidents and complimented the crowd for being well-behaved. “It was exemplary behaviour. We had adequate coverage of police officers . . . not only uniformed but also plain clothes,” the police spokesman said.