Bigger, better festival
Crop Over reaches international status, says Aja
The country’s premier cultural festival is said to be evolving to satisfy the needs of the modern day reveller, resulting in a more appealing event for Barbadians and visitors.
In fact, events producer with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) Aja said Crop Over had reached international status, with patrons coming to Barbados especially for the festival.
Aja told Barbados TODAY that complaints of the past that the event had little impact on tourism were no longer valid.
“I remember about 15 years ago people were telling me that Crop Over itself was going to impact on the tourist industry [but] the hotels remained empty because people used to go at their families and so on. But today in 2015 hotels are booked. That means that people are coming in for Crop Over. It is international now,” the NCF officer said.
Aja reflected with satisfaction on the changes made to the Sweet Soca and Party Monarch competitions that have grown into the Soca Royale at night, and the pan festival as examples of the growth and development to which he referred.
“There are a lot of aspects that we can continue to market outside of Barbados . . . I think now the whole world can now come and see the sweetest summer festival in the world. Have a party. Yes, the bands have to be judged, but have a party atmosphere from day one.”
The NCF official also spoke of a “demographic shift” at Grand Kadooment, noting that the revellers were much younger than in the past, necessitating changes to the organization of the parade.
He recalled that three decades ago the stands and grounds at the National Stadium would be packed with spectators who were there to take in the spectacle.
However, he said with the changing demographics it was important to shift the focus of Grand Kadooment from the stadium to the road.
“Younger people are jumping. It is more a party atmosphere. So what we did this year was let some bands assemble inside and some bands assemble outside, and I think it shifted the energy levels.
“The focus of Grand Kadooment is now on the road. It’s not much of a spectacle within the National Stadium itself. The Barbados Association of Masqueraders and Band Leaders and the NCF, we are trying a thing here and we can expand on this a little more,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Aja said he hoped the shift in focus was just the beginning of improvements to come, and the NCF would seek feedback from the costumed bands which set up inside the stadium to find out how they felt about atmosphere.