The streets of Speightstown, St Peter were abuzz as the sounds of the Royal Barbados Police Force Band at Speightstown Playing Field clashed with the music from the streets as the Barbados Defense Force Zouave Band led the street parade.
The parade comprised of Dancin Africa, Dance Stride, Haynesville Youth, the Israel Lovell Foundation, cheerleading groups such as Dynasty Cheerleaders, the 2019 Parish Ambassadors and more.
The quiet Little Bristol was no more but a combustion of colour and culture for the First Citizens Crop Over Launch and Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes.
Marking the official launch to the three-month Crop Over Festival, chief executive officer of the National Cultural Foundation, Carol Roberts-Reifer, reminded Barbadians not to be complacent and to continue to push for the improvement of the festival.
Noting that the three-month festival has been recognized at the 27th most popular festival in the world, Roberts-Reifer urged cultural practitioners and ordinary Barbadians to strive to develop the island’s carnival product.
“We must not be satisfied with just being number 27, we owe it to the pioneers to the administrators and stalwarts of the past to repackage this festival and strategically and proudly present it to Barbadians and people from all over the world for their enjoyment,” said the NCF CEO.
“What kind of festival do we want to enjoy and share with the world? I say let us produce it, enjoy it, nurture and cherish it. It is ours and deserves the loyalty and commitment of each and every one of us,” she added.
Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, John King applauded the progress the festival has made throughout the years and assured the public that more changes were to come. He emphasized that the modifications to the festival were done to produce the best product possible.
“We might not always agree on the changes to be made but one thing we can always assure – every decision made by the National Cultural Foundation is done in an effort to get this Crop Over product correct,” said King.
“Any changes made from a cultural policy perspective are to provide a framework for its betterment like delivery on our promise to grant duty-free concessions to cultural practitioners, the removal of the tax clearance certificate as a requirement of the payment of subventions and the provision of a state of the art recording studio made fully accessible to registered calypsonians participating in our junior and senior competitions,” he continued.
The sugar industry workers recognised for their Outstanding Contribution to the Sugar Industry were Shurland Redman, a tractor driver from Haymans Factory, and Denise Hinds, a general worker from Spring Hall Plantation.
This year’s Crop Over Stalwarts were Ireka Jelani (Arts and Craft), Cynthia Ralston (Masquerade), Keith Ellis (Music), Carol Cadogan-Fox (Administration), Wayne Parks Rliley (Support Services) and Leroy ‘Ling Pong’ Bartlett (Vending).