Crop Over Festivalin Bridgetown, Barbados
Crop Over Festival
Lasting for approximately 5 weeks, and commencing in July, Crop Over is a Barbadian festival celebrating the end of the local sugar cane crop harvest - hence it's name.
Colour, culture and heritage (tuk bands, land ship, stilt-walkers), music (calypso, tuk, ring bang and steelpan), alcohol (locally brewed beer and rum) along with energy, friendly spirited people and fantastic summer weather, are all combined to create the Caribbean's ultimate festival -"more than a carnival, sweet fuh days".
Crop Over was resurrected in 1974 from a multi-decade hibernation that began in the 1940's due to hardships of the time and the world war. Since then, it has grown steadily into the island's premiere event, attracting thousands of new and repeat visitors annually.
The cultural diversity of the island is showcased throughout the festival through exhibitions, concerts, street markets, parades and of course mega dust-to-dawn parties (also referred to as fetes or bashments).
Some of the highlights of the action packed festival include:
Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes and the Crowning of the King and Queen of the Crop:
A ceremony where the harvest is officially pronounced closed and the most productive male and female cane cutters of the season are crowed King and Queen respectively.
The Decorated Cart Parade:
A colourful procession of costumed people and decorated vehicles including bicycles, cars and trucks.
Weekly Calypso Tent shows:
Performances by local entertainers, comedians and calypsonians, showcasing the latest songs of the season varying from commentaries relating to recent local and regional happenings to party hits encouraging acrobatic dance steps and positions.
Several tents open annually and include Bacchanal Time, Conquerors, Untouchables and the House of Soca.
Arguably the most unproductive period on the Barbadian calendar, parties start each day with after-work limes and graduate to full blown bashments by 11:30 pm lasting to day break the next day. Hangovers are a common side effect during the first week, while your body adjusts to the increased levels of adrenaline and alcohol.
Some of the popular places to go to are "Wuh dah da", "The Ship Inn", "Harbour Lights" and "The Boartyard". You can also check with costume bands for their band fetes. Popular ones include Power X 4 and Baje International. Visit the Crop Over Calendar for details.
Junior Kadooment Parade and Junior Calypso Monarch Competition:
The kids get their own special kadooment as well.
There's a calypso competition and Kiddies Kadooment which is a parade of the little ones "playing mas".
Pic-O-De-Crop Semi Finals and Party Monarch Calypso competition:
From a line up of 18, 7 must be selected at the Pic-O-De-Crop Semi Finals competition to compete against the reigning Calypso king at the Pic-O-De-Crop Calypso competition.
This event recently has been moved to the East Coast road, and combined with the Party Monarch Calypso competition. A day of fun and excitement for friends and family is is to be had with the Party Monarch being the finale. Hosted on the slopes of the untouched Chalk hills of St. Andrew, overlooking the the breaking surf of the Atlantic, if you enjoy good music, liming and picnicking this event is for you.
The Pic-O-De-Crop Calypso competition:
This competition is strongly supported by locals and is the climax of weeks of performances by the 8 finalists, who will contend for the year's crown and top prizes.
Each contestant sings 2 songs and a panel of judges award points based on such areas as melody and diction.
Fore-day Morning Jump Up:
A recent addition to the vibrant blend of festive activities, probably borrowed from Trinidad's carnival, Fore-Day Morning Jump Up is a early morning "Jump Up", following the selection of the new King Of Pic-O-De-Crop Calypso competition.
It usually starts from the Bridgetown and makes its way to Spring Garden. It is a common practice for participants to paint themselves with oils and body paints. A word to the wise: Don't wear white or anything you cherish. See pictures from Fore-Day 2001
Held on Saturday and Sunday, Bridgetown Market is a large, street fair focused on the exhibition and marketing of local art and craft, talent, music, cuisine and beverages.
It's a wonderful opportunity to pick up unique, hard to find souvenirs, art work and sample the rich pool of talent born of the island.
A car show has recently been added to the list of attractions.
The Kings and queens of the year's costume bands are given an opportunity to show off their dazzling and elaborate costumes, to the sounds of the latest local calypso hits, while competing for prizes and the titles of King and Queen of the Festival.
The grand climax of the festival, this is a spectacular street procession of bands of costumed revelers, accompanied by huge trucks packing elaborate and deathening sound systems and tons of beverages.
There are several costumed bands to choose from, and membership is not restricted to locals. Costumes range from very conservative whole piece ones to bikini-like ones. If you plan to "jump", you should wear sneakers already broken in, use adequate amounts of sun-block, and keep yourself well hydrated. Rain often blesses the "Jump Up" and are welcomed as the summer sun can be challenging. Click here for the list of 2002 costume bands.
This article kindly reproduced with permission from the people at Kadooment.com - home of the Crop Festival on the web - a great site and well worth a visit.
Crop Over Festival on the Map
All over Barbados, check the website for up-to-date event details or head to Tim's on de Highway.