There will be no Cohobblopot for Crop Over 2017 as was previously announced. Neither will there be a King and Queen of the Crop. These are just two of the changes to this year’s festival.
Speaking to the media during the annual Crop Over briefing at his Sky Mall office, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley provided details of a number of changes. Having announced to another media house less than a month ago that Cohobblopot would be returning, Lashley revealed that the event would again be off the calendar.
“We had announced efforts to stage Cohobblopot with a partner. I believe that everyone who sees me asks about the return of Cohobblopot to the calendar. Discussions had ensued in relation to having Cohobblopot with a partner but I have to say to you that particular discussion ended in the partner who was targeted indicating that they could not produce Cohobblopot this year. So unfortunately there will not be a Cohobblopot on the calendar this year,” he said.
Lashley renewed a call for a private sector entity to come on board to stage the once popular event, which has been off the cards for two years now. There was no show last year and in 2015, it was replaced by the 1Love Concert featuring Machel Montano and the Monk Monte band.
“Again, as I stressed in previous years, the production of Cohobblopot is one which the NCF believes can best be produced by a private sector partner with technical support from the NCF and wherever possible. We have done it already with a partner and we are prepared to do it again but we would want to signal we are still very eager to have that event produced with a private partner and therefore we look forward to interest being expressed for next year’s event,” he added.
With regard to the King and Queen of the Crop, that will be no more due to the changing face of the sugar industry.
Said Lashley: “One of the changes that we have talked about over the years relates to the King and Queen of the Crop. This has engaged conversation for quite a while and this has to do with the changing face of the crop. We have seen the changes, we have recognized that there’s hardly a single cane cutter who is out in the field.
“We have monstrous equipment that can cut down a field in a matter of hours. So the changing face of the sugar cane harvest has really come to the fore. Much more mechanization, less labour intensive and therefore the whole question of King and Queen of the Crop and how many tonnes you’ve cut and how much you load has really been a part of that modernization.”
Lashley went on: “So the NCF is having discussions on how we address this issue. I can say to you that the whole idea of having a King and Queen of the Crop has to be relooked. Rather than having a King and Queen of the Crop, we would have an honours system for persons who are participants in the sugar cane harvest.
“The NCF has been in discussion with the Barbados Workers Union, the Barbados Sugar Industry Limited, the Barbados Agricultural Management Corporation, and they are actively pursuing a plan to move in that direction. Every year, we will look to honour two persons involved in the industry.”
The other changes include a switch to the King George V Memorial Park in St Philip as the new venue for the opening Crop Over Gala and Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes. “This is also part of our plan to move the festival to our communities,” Lashley said.
Also, with Courtesy Garage as a new sponsor, the 2017 Calypso monarch will drive away in a new Nissan XTrail among the prizes.