Following its decision to do away with having a King and Queen of the Crop which was a standard feature from the inception of the annual Crop Over Festival, the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) has come up with an alternative way to honour some of the hardworking individuals still involved in the harvesting of sugar canes.
Come June 24, when the First Citizens Crop Over Opening Gala and Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes comes off at King George V Park in St Philip, two individuals will be announced as this year’s honourees, acting Chief Cultural Officer, Alison Sealy-Smith, said Monday at the launch of the event.
“As you know, over the years the harvesting of sugar cane has become more developed and mechanized, rendering our current method of selection for the King and Queen of the Crop impractical. With effect from the 2017 First Citizens Crop Over Opening Gala, a new system of recognizing workers from all spheres of the sugar industry is being implemented,” she said.
Sealy-Smith added: “This year, we are honouring two outstanding workers in the sugar (industry) nominated by their peers. They will be from the Portvale Sugar Factory and you will find out who they are and more about them at the Opening Gala. The NCF worked closely with the Barbados Sugar Industries Limited (BSIL) and the Barbados Workers’ Union on this selection.”
This year’s Opening Gala, themed We Story, is expected to explore some age-old traditions, tell stories of the past and look ahead to the future. Sealy-Smith said: “For us, underpinning this Festival is the preservation of its traditions, identifying those that are core to its continuity, the ones we will take with us into the modern Crop Over and the ones we will leave behind. Through events like these, we can explore and celebrate some of those traditions, continue to tell our stories, all the while gazing into that contemporary mirror at the possibilities for the future.”
She went on: “These annual events steeped in the traditions and remembrances of the plantation yard, juxtaposed with activities of a present-day flair, allow us to attract locals and visitors alike, ensuring that we keep the stories of our heritage at the forefront of their minds, all-the-while paving the future with a layer of legacy for the younger generation.”
Producer of the Opening Gala, Karen Pestaina, said the NCF had already received good reviews about moving the event to the east of the island. “Persons are already responding well to it. We already got a call from the (St Philip District) hospital to let us know all their mobile patients are coming across. I think people are really happy that we have decentralized and King George V Park holds a lot of memories for people . . . so the response has been very good. A lot of people are already saying I remember when,” Pestaina said.