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Venue changes for events to officially kick off Crop Over Festival

by Shamar Blunt
4 min read
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Due to Hurricane Beryl’s passage earlier this week, the Digicel Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes and 50th Anniversary Tent will now take place at different venues in the centre of Bridgetown rather than the National Botanical Gardens.

Events will be in the main squares in The City – Golden Square Freedom Park, Independence Square and National Heroes Square – from 9 a.m.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) Carol Roberts made the announcement on Thursday at the Golden Square Freedom Park, as NCF teams and other stakeholders were putting the final touches in place for this weekend’s official start to the Crop Over season.

Roberts told the media that while the Botanical Gardens would have been an ideal location for the launch commemorating the 50th anniversary of Crop Over, the excessive rainfall from Hurricane Beryl, the expected large number of patrons and entertainers would have had a negative impact on that green space.

“We felt that due to the excessive rains and after consultation with the dendrologist Nigel Jones, that it would be best to not just reduce, but not put a footprint in the space at this time,” she explained. “We immediately thought of our beloved Bridgetown, and even though there would have been a number of challenges facing us in terms of lifting that blueprint that we would have created for the event at Botanical Gardens, we are very confident that we have been able to shift and place it quite neatly in the squares. From Saturday, as early as 9 o’clock, these three squares will come alive,” she said.

This year’s Crop Over launch will feature a variety of events, including cultural shows, demonstrations, and activities for all ages. Additionally, there will be a large number of vendors selling food, beverages, and locally made goods around The City.

The NCF chief said all Barbadians and visitors will have much to see during the launch.

“We really want the public to come out on Saturday to see things like the decorated cart parade [and] the Crop Over Promenade, which was an opportunity for us to dress up and literally promenade along Queen’s Park; that will return,” she said. “The costumes and the styling of the Crop Over Promenade and a very popular heritage character, which is the Mother Sally, have been reimagined. Local designer Wayne Smith will be reimagining the costumes and the fashion and the accessories of the Crop Over Promenade. Another local designer, Pauline Belamy will be dealing with the reimagined Mother Sally.”

The finals of competitions in Potta and Warri, two native board games, will also be held on Saturday, with several primary and secondary school students participating.

Eighty vendors will also take part in the launch over the weekend, including some from Nigeria who will showcase their arts and craft.

The procession of the last canes will start at Pelican Village at 3 p.m.

“We have a parade from Pelican Lifestyle Centre, up Broad Street right back here to Golden Square of over 200 young people. They are either performers, carrying heritage costumes, they are youth and community groups, [and] members of the School Landship Project,” Roberts said.

The Scotiabank Junior Monarch semi-finals will also be heading to a new venue – the ‘UWI Tent’ at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, starting at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Roberts said: “This is going to be a big one. We had two Junior Monarch Tents; the first one was practically sold out, the second one was completely sold out, so there is a buzz about these young calypsonians. Twenty-six of them will be competing on Sunday and vying for a place in the Scotiabank Junior Calypso Monarch finals.”

The NCF chief took time to acknowledge that while it is a packed weekend for the festival here, it was a solemn time for many in the region who were not spared the brunt of Hurricane Beryl as Barbados was.

“This is not a big celebratory time given the losses they would have suffered to property and other valuable items with the passage of Beryl, but we are also keen to show you some resilience, some creativity, some imagination, and some young, up-and-coming cultural practitioners,” Roberts said. “We did reduce some components of this event, but the ones we have kept, we have kept because they really showcase some excellent examples of Barbadian cultural endeavours.”
(SB)

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