Some Grand Kadooment revellers describe this year’s new route as “too hot and too long” and they want Crop Over stakeholders to go back to the drawing table for next year’s festival.
And while some band leaders and officials gave the final jump-up a passing grade, they agreed there will be need for a careful review.
Following a two-year hiatus due to the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Crop Over festival came back to life this year, albeit somewhat condensed.
This time around, revellers started from Warrens, travelled along the ABC Highway to the JTC Ramsey roundabout (Emancipation Statue) then returned along the highway and proceeded through Waterford Bottom to the National Botanical Gardens.
As Kadooment bands approached the Clyde Walcott roundabout in Hothersal Turning, St Michael from Warrens, it was clear one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the festival was simply not the same – the number of revellers was far less than in previous years.
In addition, revellers said it was simply too hot and the route seemed a lot longer than the original route.
Candace Jones, who last jumped in 2019, said: “It was way too hot and way too long. This year was bad. We need to go back to the other route”.
However, overall, she gave the Crop Over festivities a passing grade, saying while it was not the same as 2019, it was “okay, but this Kadooment was not one for the books”.
Chief among the complaints for revellers were the absence of “a good atmosphere”, food and shade along some points of the route.
While spectators and vendors came out in their numbers at specific points including in Warrens, Hothersal Turning, Norman Niles roundabout, Haggatt Hall and the National Botanical Gardens, no one was allowed to set up shop along the stretch of highway in between those locations.
“This route sucks. There is no atmosphere. Give us the original route,” shouted one woman from one of the bands as it moved on towards the Botanical Gardens.
Long-time reveller Senator Andrew Mallalieu told Barbados TODAY he expected numbers to be down somewhat because of the longer route and the fact that the Kadooment was taking place in a COVID-19 environment.
“Obviously after a few years without having Kadooment, I am very pleased we are able to do it and do it safely. The truth is that Barbados is a country of sun, sea and sand, and this route has sun and more sun. There is no sea and sand. So, I hope in the post-COVID environment we will be back to finishing on the beach with the sea and the sand,” he added.
In any event, Mallalieu said given the impact the pandemic had on the entertainment industry he was very happy to see people back out and working.
“In any case, it is great to be back out and I love it,” he said.
While all other bands started the journey from Warrens, the Blue Box Cart members started from Hothersal Turning, leaving the location around 9:45 a.m.
Upon his return to Hothersal before turning onto Waterford, one of the organisers of the band who gave his name as Bryan, told Barbados TODAY he was happy with the route that they did, adding that the lack of shade on the route was a major concern for revellers.
However, he said “the season has been good, we are happy to be out, the route is decent”.
Like other band leaders, Bryan said he saw a decline of between 30 to 40 per cent in revellers this year.
“However, we happened to have had a good day and we will move on to next year,” he said.
Describing the entire Crop Over season as “very good”, he said “we are all fortunate to be back out with the festival and have a good time”.
Founder of Colorz Entertainment Bryan Worrell also gave a mixed review of the day’s proceedings.
“There were some pros and cons today. There are some things we can improve on in the beginning of the route and on the route itself. But the pros of it would be the freedom – no ropes, no encroachment from outside revellers and masqueraders feeling happy to just free up themselves and ‘own the road’,” he said.
“I think we need to organise the beginning of the jump a little bit more and add a little bit more spectacle at the beginning. The organisation of that needs to be improved a bit, but it is the first year doing what we are doing this year so you would expect some little teething issues. So, I think next year we can plan a little bit better if we will improve this route again and improve on it,” he said.
The Colorz band leader said he was pleased with the turnout of patrons, but said he was looking forward to an increase in revellers next year.
Spectators gave a mixed review of this year’s Kadooment, with some also complaining about the heat while others said they liked the fact that people had bigger spaces for themselves from which to observe the gyrating revellers on the road.
Shellyann Clarke was stationed on a mounted area between the Hothersal Turning roundabout and Waterford.
“For years I have been hearing complaints that they wanted a longer route to jump so I am looking to see how the longer route is and what the experience will be now for the jumpers and if they really like it or it is a little bit too long,” she said, as she cited the time the bands were returning as a concern.
Clarke, who was taking in the action with family, agreed that the number of people taking part in Kadooment appeared a lot less than in previous years.
Minister with responsibility for Culture Dr Shantal Munro-Knight told Barbados TODAY that an assessment would follow today’s proceeding to see what changes would be necessary.
Acknowledging that everything has not been perfect this year, she said she was a little nervous about the Grand Kadooment in a COVID environment and whether people would show up.
“But look at it, it is just awesome,” she said.
“We still stop and reflect again for next year on any lessons that we have to learn, but I am happy thus far,” said Munro-Knight. ([email protected])
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