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Festival review

Another Crop-Over Festival has come and gone, and even though there were some of the usual “controversies”, we believe the organisers can be reasonably proud of their efforts and the outcome.

From start to finish the festival has been largely violence free, which we believe speaks as much to general respect for law and order by Barbadians as it does to the work of the men and women of the Royal Barbados Police Force, the other protective agencies and the planning of the National Cultural Foundation and organisers of private events.

We believe that Barbadians can be proud of the fact that we can come together in the thousands in some of the most confining spaces, have a good time for hours and not resort to the kinds of violence that so badly afflicts some other societies.

But that does not mean we should not keep a close watch on some “sub-cultural activities” that continue to demonstrate a potential for problems if they are allowed to get out of hand.

Two of those in particular that we believe require a firm hand during the planning for next year’s event, at least as far as the security agencies are concerned, are underage drinking and the open use of marijuana at events that attract large crowds.

It appears clear from our vantage point that unless we have a large population of “mature” young people who look like minors, underage drinkers have no problem getting beer and other strong drinks at these events — and are not averse to openly consuming them, even in the presence of the law. It should not be allowed to continue. We need to set a legal drinking age, and 21 in our view is not too high, and then enforce it in both the sale and consumption areas.

We also note that it is now virtually impossible to attend a fete and not witness young men and women puffing away on marijuana — and we highlight the Belleplaine playing field in St. Andrew during the second Cavalcade in May as a perfect example. As nearly two dozen young men sat in one corner of the field and openly smoked, the odour wafted over a large section of the field, and we find it hard to believe the policemen on duty there did not detect it.

When the various agencies review their aspects of Crop-Over coverage we also hope that the relevant authorities will pay attention to overcrowding at private fetes. We will not single out any venues here, but we believe that we can’t be the only ones who are uncomfortable with the way patrons are packed into some of these venues and what appears to be the huge potential for disaster if an emergency evacuation becomes necessary.

We have no quarrel with the large national events because it is clear that police, fire, Roving Response, Department of Emergency Management and more are not only involved in the planning, but are also present at the locations throughout the show. We hope, however, that it has not been lost on all of us that some of these fetes attract larger audiences than the NCF’s events.

Here’s a final, positive note. Has the National Cultural Foundation and the Ministry of Culture noticed the effective use of Crop-Over elements in the off-field component of the inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League competition? And, have they noticed the absolute popularity of the T20 version of the game?

So we talk of cultural tourism and sports tourism. Now will someone with the power to make things happen move early to see how Crop-Over 2014 and LCPL 2014 can come together for a cricket/Crop-Over spectacular in Barbados? We see a huge tourism potential. Will we wait for someone else to grab it?

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