Grand Kadooment bandleaders report a major decrease in costume sales, suggesting the climactic jumpup to end the Crop Over Festival may see fewer costumed revellers on the Mighty Grynner Highway.
With two weeks left to Crop Over carnival of costume bands, some bandleaders are holding on to a silver lining – a last-minute registration rush and influx of higher-spending visitors.
Jeremy Nicholls, bandleader of the “party band”, Xhosa Barbados, told Barbados TODAY sales were “significantly down”. He suggested that it was a reflection of the economic climate in Barbados as consumers sought to tighten their belts. But Nicholls said an influx of masqueraders and carnival visitors from North America and the United Kingdom possessed more spending power.
He said there would be a reassessment of the band’s Grand Kadooment product to ensure affordable prices for their masqueraders.
Nicholls said: “I think that one of the things that we need to sit down and do is relook the entire product and see how we can reduce the cost of the product to the public because there is a misconception that we are just putting any figure onto the costumes and somehow making this enormous amount of money which is far from the truth.
“In some cases, you could end up with very low margins and if you’re not careful you can end up losing at the end of the season just because you are trying to keep the overall cost down to the patrons.”
Nicholls stressed that after the Crop Over Festival, bandleaders and promoters needed to regroup and assess how to reduce the cost of the festival so more locals could enjoy the activities.
“I am hoping within the next two weeks that even if people can’t afford to jump, that they still come out and support the overall event because that is going to be important when it is packaged to be sold overseas,” he added.
Bryan Worrell of Colourz Entertainment has also recorded more overseas participation in this year’s jump. The director of the Colourz Grand Kadooment band revealed that his band which was originally 500 masqueraders might be reduced to 400 because of the slow sales.
He said: “People want to participate but the funds just don’t support it so people have been calling and asking for a discount.
“Where you have loyalty members you can give a discount until things turn around but it is more a case of people not having that spending power or they are waiting to take care of their necessities in terms of their children for school,” he said.
Veteran bandleader Gwyneth Squires told Barbados TODAY of a decline in both the Kiddies and Grand Kadooment masqueraders. Squires, with 34 years of experience in Crop Over and masquerade, was not hopeful of a bright finale.
“We have to wait and see how things work out but I don’t think it will be a good festival like years ago,” she said.
With local participation at Grand Kadooment rapidly declining over the past five years, president of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders (BAM), Chetwyn Stewart argued that there needs to be an assessment of the Grand Kadooment overall.
Stewart revealed that for next year’s festival, BAM sought to engage the National Cultural Foundation in discussions on introducing a “wow factor” in the jump as to encourage more local participation. He noted that over the past five years, there has been “a big decline” in the numbers of revellers passing through the National Stadium and locals on the road.