Highs and lows of Crop Over
The 40th anniversary of what can arguably be described as the sweetest festival in the world climaxed yesterday and stakeholders have already been reflecting on the highs and lows of Crop Over 2014 – some of which were publicized, others never made it to the stage.
It was a mixed bag for veteran, multi-award winning bandleader Gwyneth Squires.
She was smiling when a Barbados TODAY team visited her band house, a day after her Controversee band captured the Robert Weekes Award for Best Festival Designer at Grand Kadooment for the 18th time and also took prizes for Large Band of the Year, Most Colourful Large Band, and Most Topical.
Squires also won the Robert Weekes Award in Junior Kadooment last weekend – also for the 18th time.
“I had a sweet theme . . . I work with a sweet team and I want to thank my workers and those sponsors who assisted. I have some very good dedicated workers and I don’t want to lose them,” she said about her band that depicted controversial topics.
Squires said, though, that she had headaches trying to acquire sponsorship.
Catching up on some much-needed rest, Chetwyn Stewart, bandleader of Power X Four said he and his 850 revellers had a good time on the road yesterday with no major disturbances.
He was also pleased that the Grand Kadooment jump-up returned to the National Stadium, which he said was less hassle than beginning at Warrens.
Though mostly satisfied, Stewart said a downside of the season was having fewer revellers than he was accustomed to.
“The main reason is that a lot of people did not jump yesterday because they could not have afforded it. But there was a good turnout for the [Foreday Morning] band which was sold out because it is obviously more affordable for people’s pockets,” he said.
“The majority of our jumpers are young, average women with children and they have to prepare them for school which starts back next month and I know that things must be very hard for them financially right now.”
Soca artiste Michael Mikey Mercer indicated that he was feeling a little low at the beginning of the season when he heard talk that there was not any good music for the season because he knew that quite the opposite obtained.
As the season drew closer to an end, however, he said he saw more people catching the festival fever and attending more events.
As for his highs, being able to make it to the final of all the competitions he entered was satisfying, especially reaching the Pic-O-De-Crop for the first time.
“It was truly an experience and completely different to and Party MonarchSweet Soca but I am very eager to go again next year. With any competition anybody would be disappointed if they didn’t win but with everything there is a learning experience,” said the singer who placed third in the competition.
Some commentators were not pleased that Mikey made it to the finals with a song they believed was not a true social commentary.
Responding to the critics, he said: “People will always have issues with change and it is quite ironic because if I had come in exactly how everybody else did it people would say that I am trying to sound like somebody else. I was trying to be me and trying to push the envelope a little bit because things have to evolve.”
“I am not fazed by it and I was never one to settle for what everybody else is doing but [one who] pushes the envelope, sometimes to his detriment, with the mindset that nothing great comes from doing the same thing that everybody else is doing.”
Stedson Red Plastic Bag Wiltshire, who placed second in the Sweet Soca competition told Barbados TODAY that he was especially pleased with the execution of the 40th Anniversary Crop Over Monarchs In Concert show.
He said he hoped many young Barbadians got a chance to see the performances.
“I am not resistant to change but it is good that they had the chance to see some of the older performers and hear some of the older songs, in terms of understanding what the music came from and where it is at now,” RPB said.
“It would have been very nostalgic for a lot of people who were there from the start of Crop Over and I think that overall it was a wonderful presentation. People are saying that we should have it every year and I am not against that but we have to maintain the level that we presented this time. I must tell you that it was very, very difficult to remember some of those songs from 30 years ago, but we had fun and backstage we were discussing memories and it was a really good atmosphere.”
There were also many exclusive parties and fetes held throughout the season, the majority of which were very well attended.
And when patrons attended those events, or enjoyed the revelry on the sidelines, their thirst was quenched and hunger satisfied by food and drinks sold by vendors, some of whom had mixed feelings about the level of sales throughout the season.
Jameelia, a food vendor on Black Rock Main Road, St Michael said this was her first time selling food for the season but, based on how good sales went, it would not be the last.
“I love it and I will be back next year because I believe that this time of the year is a good time to get some extra money in your pocket,” she said.