Choke on Crop Over



Time is short, so I want to get straight to it without too much lead-up to the matter. I want to know what is going on here in Barbados with the Crop Over Festival. I am asking –– and I have been asked –– who is in charge at the NCF?

And, do they have a voice as far as the decision making goes? Because it seems the only heard voice lately is the Minister of Culture’s.

Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley
Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley

That is not the main concern at all; but it is at the point where it seems like we are doing our best to put an end to Crop Over. Year after year, we take one step forward and two steps backward –– and I mean really backward. The things that many of us looked forward to, leading up and into the festival have been shelved –– namely the Cavalcades.

I understand when there is a shortage of money, or no money at all, it will be very hard to produce these shows; but when you are going to tell the masses there is no money to do something that will lift their spirits, but on the other hand you seemed to manufacture the money to host royalty, and feed and water so-called big-ups and wannabes in attendance.

And even though the two events are months apart, the fact remains that thousands of dollars got spent on a celebration that most of the island couldn’t give a rat’s tail about.

Another sore point for me is the move back to the National Stadium for the start of the Kadooment street party. Why is it that we ask for things and then when we get them, and are seasoned in the changes, we are thrown back into the same position we were in originally? I know some bandleaders complained about the extra expenses they would have to face due to the need for more drinks, but with the high cost of costumes I don’t think making a little cut in profits to provide some drinks should be a big deal.

I hear people asking for more days to jump and more time on the road, but they can forget about it all. Honestly, I don’t see some of us making an extra day on the road. And, if a short jump from Warrens is such an expense, then what will a second day providing music and drinks cost?

I figured Warrens was a good assembly point, with all the big trucks and thousands of revellers. I found the Stadium to be too small and congested for the crowd and trucks –– but we are reverting to –– or reversing –– our
previous move.

Has any of the top-class, well paid marketing specialists found another way to promote the festival? I was wondering if any other place had a carnival or street party that climaxed so close to the beach. I am sure that if we want to attract new people, that the crystal clear waters could be a selling point also for those needing to cool down after a long chip or dance down the highway.

On the topic of highway partying, I want to know who was the genius who made the decision to move the Foreday Morning jump to the Saturday. All it would spell is the cancellation of a number of fetes originally planned for that night. Having the Minister of Culture announce the new date as final, only to hear him later with another final decision of going back to the Friday really showed no deep thought had been given to this. Whatever the real reason was, I must say thank God it is sorted at least for this year.

Who knows? We may even see the Pic-O-De-Crop Final moving to the Saturday instead.

I am hoping that we could have a very profitable and enjoyable festival season. Even though things are tough, and have been for a few years now, patrons will still find the ticket cost and time to participate in the activities. I can’t help but think of the Q In The Community limes which are
well patronized.

They are free, for one; and people vending food and drinks do very well. This means the drink companies and butchers will make some money too. We may have to look at the staging of a Q Cavalcade next, if things continue as they are, because I don’t see things changing financially for Government and Barbados any time soon.

Finally, I want to see what is happening with the calypso competition, as far as the judging system goes. I think it is long overdue to revert –– if we must revert at all –– to deliberation. A man never goes before the court with a jury and it not have deliberation as far as reaching a verdict. The competitions are quite the same.

You go to face the judges –– or jury, as I like to think of them –– and they make their individual decisions, but we need that collective decision at the end of it all.

A contestant could score the most from the seven jurors and still lose because the high and low will be thrown out and the five middle scores used. A bit of chat and deliberation will sort that out.

I was never for the instant decision even though I have won twice via the system. Too often, little rumours circle about judges being in shock at final decisions and it not being what they collectively may have wanted, but the system decides more than they do.

After examining scores, positions should be discussed as to why a contestant does or does not deserve a placing. Some years, it is bang on; and some, it is not. I prefer a unanimous decision to one that is bound to cause issues.

We often blame the selected panel, but as I stated earlier, they really can’t have much control over a decision if they are not deliberating. We need to sort that out sooner rather than later, and if the powers doubt me, they should speak to the panel, and not just BATMAN, or whoever wants the present system.

Long live Crop Over, I say; but somehow we seem to be trying to choke it.


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