Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley dubbed it the “official sign off”, but the 2017 Crop Over awards ceremony gave the audience a sense of déjà vu as popular artistes and band members went on stage to receive their awards.
Though the winners and outstanding performers of this year’s festival that ended on August 7 were long known, the Hilton Barbados conference room came alive with whistles and applause as the scores of people gathered reacted to the names being called again.
“We applaud your continued commitment and dedication to our festival that continues to grow by leaps and bounds,” Lashley said in an address to the gathering Saturday evening.
He said the evening was for lauding the achievements of those in winners’ row, recognizing the contributions and yeoman service to the festival, and reflecting on the successes and challenges of Crop Over.
The Minister then urged all contributors to a successful 2017 festival to move their horizons beyond the shores of the island: “Your efforts are now needed to take elements of the Crop Over brand to the major capitals of the world. This, once properly packaged, has the potential to earn new streams of foreign exchange for Barbados”.
Reviewing this year’s performance from an organizational standpoint, he spoke of comments surrounding the quality of the events produced by the National Cultural Foundation and some changes to venues – like the use of the 3Ws Amphitheatre at Kensington Oval for the competitions – and concluded that, “from all perspectives, sponsors, performers and the general public alike, it worked well; something we should consider for 2018”.
Prize money and sponsorship of goods and services from commercial entities across Barbados flowed and Lashley noted that this year saw four vehicles on offer, with the most expensive vehicle ever to be awarded for Pic-O-De-Crop at a market value of $125,000.
He thanked “valued partners for their commitment to the development of our cultural and creative industries, allowing us to re-imagine and innovate this world class festival”.
Among the matters Lashley touched on in his review was what he described as “the process of changing the face of Pic-O-De-Crop as we know it”.
Against the backdrop of a single shooting incident that left one dead and many injured, the Culture Minister extended kudos to police, noting that safety and security has always been a number one priority for Barbados’ Crop Over festival.
“I commend the efforts of the Royal Barbados Police Force in making this a safe festival. Policing our particular blend of 26 events spread over 13 weeks, many of them free mass events, and still carrying out the regular business of the country – keeping our population safe – is a mammoth task.
“Those of you who attended the events can attest to the stepped up level of security with sweeps and checks at all venues to ensure that any lawless threat of violence did not materialize,” Lashley noted.