Bridgetown alive with culture
Inaugural City Fest staging in the city
Bridgetown for over 12 hours was a hive of activity on Saturday, but not in the traditional sense of persons going about their usual shopping.
Some were ‘heading’ cane, roller-skating, playing video games and strolling along the Wickham-Lewis Boardwalk, as artistes created landscape paintings as well as abstracts.
It was the inaugural City Fest, a potpourri of culture unleashed in the street of the historic capital ahead of the traditional Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes and coronation of the King and Queen of the Crop.
This year’s winners Grantley Hurley and Judy Cumberbatch have again proven that they are difficult to beat.
Hurley, who hails from Sion Hill, St James, has been the King of the Crop for 14 years. After cutting and piling over 160 tonnes of sugar cane, Hurley was declared the King of the Crop for 2014.
Cumberbatch, who lives in French Village, St Peter, was crowned Queen on Saturday for the 15th time after cutting and piling 75 tonnes of sugar cane this year.
The official Crop Over launch ceremony was preceded by the traditional parade through the streets of the city, from the General Post Office on Cheapside, along Broad Street and climaxing in Heroes Square.
The theme of this year’s parade was When Sugar was King. It paid homage to the island’s sugar workers, with many of them taking part in the procession, which also included a number of pieces of equipment that have become critical to the functioning of the sector, including the tractors and trailers.
Present were also some of the staples of festival, such as the 151 year old Barbados Landship Association, whose members were out in full regalia; the Sons of God Apostolic Church [Spiritual Baptist] — this year without their patriarch, Archbishop Granville Williams who died in April this year; the traditional tuk bands, Mother Sallys and Stiltmen, who all were cheered on by the crowd lining the route.
As he declared the 2014 festival open, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley noted that the formal launch of Crop Over was coming at the end of June, which has been designated Heritage Month.
He noted too that the festivities were taking place in heart of Historic Bridgetown “wherein lies so many stories of the people and the activities to which it owes its vibrancy”.
The Minister of Culture said it was critical to ensure there was life of Bridgetown, regardless of whatever form it took.
“Being here this evening is therefore not accidental, but rather one of the initiatives the Ministry, through the National Cultural Foundation will be pursuing to develop Bridgetown into a cultural hub. To this end, we are currently planning what would be known as the Bridgetown Arts Festival.
“This will be hosted early in the New Year and will feature cultural expression at its best along the streets of the city and within the cultural venues located within the UNESCO property. Events such as the Bridgetown Arts Festival will enliven Bridgetown and increase commercial activity,” Lashley said.
After the official opening, it was time for a taste of the festival with patrons getting to see some of the young calypsonians who will be participating in the Junior Calypso Monarch competition, the semifinals of which will be held this Saturday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. They were also treated to the sounds of James D’Lovell and his ensemble whose use of the drum and other percussion instruments got the audience caught up in the proceedings. He was later joined on the stage by Gabby for his musical renditions of Riots and Bridgetown.
They paved the way for the band NexCyx who put down an entertaining Barbadian set of popular folk songs such as Millie Gone Tuh Brazil and Pack She Back Tuh She Ma. They brought the curtain down on the event performing their international hit Eternal Summer.