We’re shareholders of the Sweetest Summer Festival

All the numbers have not yet been tabulated. But at initial glance and according to at least one top official, Crop Over 2016 has been a rousing success.

And if anything can be read into the proliferation of fetes, parties, privately staged shows, cruises, and other activities, and the heavy patronage they generated, the Sweetest Summer Festival continues to grow.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Cultural Foundation Cranston Browne has indicated in the aftermath of Crop Over’s conclusion, that one of the positive aspects of this year’s festival was the increased involvement of private sector entities. He spoke not in terms of sponsorship, but with respect to those business persons who were investing in all-inclusive engagements and other major party events.

Of course, in the interest of Crop Over’s continued prosperity, one cannot look to any Government to carry the complete financial burden of facilitating that growth. Therefore, Mr Browne’s assertion is welcomed news and speaks volumes about the confidence private entrepreneurs have in the festival, that, at last check, was responsible for pumping more than BDS$100 million into the economy. Within a Barbadian context, that is a major pie that can only get bigger and be shared further if there is increased private and public sector inputs.

Crop Over continues to attract high profile sporting and entertainment personalities who can only assist in raising its profile. Having a Lewis Hamilton or our own Rihanna participate has helped to sell the festival. One can also visualize Britain’s Prince Harry, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or others of that ilk, accepting invitations from our tourism planners to partake in the festival, and assisting in making it a global attraction in like manner to Brazil’s carnival. The crux of the matter is the festival must be embraced and promulgated by us all.

It is a secular festival and obviously there will be those who will turn their noses down on the revelry – street or otherwise. We would suggest that Crop Over’s positives be accentuated and any negatives not be used as brush to paint the entire four months of preparations, participation and performances. Annually, there are criticisms levelled with respect to Kadooment Day and its attendant costumes, consumption of alcohol and bacchanalia. Suddenly, the wonderful music, the camaraderie of band launches, tent preparations, rehearsals and shows, ceremonial delivery of the last canes, City Fest, heritage walks, folk music sessions, Bridgetown Market, pan music extravaganzas, exposure for junior calypsonians and the myriad activities are forgotten, as the sometimes overly pious among us reduce the festival to one day.

Of course, we do not for one minute condone lewd behaviour in any form. But in an unashamedly secular festival, we appreciate that we will not see conduct most associated with that to be found in His tabernacle. And it is foolhardy to expect the same.

Those involved in Crop Over at the music arrangement and production level, have been full of praise over the quality of the calypsos produced in 2016. Of course, the months of May to August are the most important period for our musicians to place their art on the market. Public patronage not only helps to assist them but it propels the festival even further. If only that spirit of supporting things Barbadian lasted throughout the year.

Unfortunately, one of the disappointments of the festival is that there are musicians whose work never reaches the airwaves. Those deejays working at broadcast entities tend to rotate a selected body of songs while ignoring the works of others. Often, we are told, this slight has nothing to do with any poor quality of the music. This not only hurts individual artistes, it also dilutes the festival somewhat. We should always be seeking to promote more of, rather than less of.

One of the most pleasing aspects of this year’s Crop Over was the peaceful environment in which all the events were generally held. To Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and his hard-working rank and file, kudos for a job well done!

Earlier in the season, there was talk of a planned “blood bath” for Foreday Morning activity threatened on social media by certain unknown people. Unfortunately, perhaps because of the nature of its existence, the media questionably highlighted it and for a time a minor storm in a teacup raged. But all remained quiet at every front.

Some of the plans the Royal Barbados Police Force put into place were quite evident on Grand Kadooment Day. In essence, last Monday’s revelry was spectacularly policed with bands reporting feeling assured with the presence of officers in each band leaving the National Stadium. There was the visibility of uniformed personnel as well as the not-so-visible detachment of plainclothes officers on the streets. That the major events were generally incident-free was no surprise.

Crop Over lost a major friend in the person of band leader/designer Renee Ratcliffe. It was an unwanted damper on the closing of this year’s activities, but a human occurrence over which no one had any control. The consolation was that Mrs. Ratcliffe passed doing what she loved most on Kadooment Day and those with whom she would have been associated over the years will remember her with immense fondness.

As we plan for 2017, we should ensure that we always see ourselves as shareholders in the island’s Sweetest Summer Festival. Crop Over does Barbados the world of good.

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