Speightstown comes alive

Speightstown has been described by many as a sleepy town; a place where some activity, life needs to be breathed back into it.

Well, that did happen, if only for a day, on Saturday, as the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) brought the Speightstown Market to the St Peter town.

It was the second year for this event, having been introduced in 2013; and, if the numbers seen this time around are anything to go by, then it is clear it was a resounding success.

Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley (at left) says Saturday’s Pan In The City Cruise and Speightstown Market hold tremendous prospects for the North.
Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley (at left) says Saturday’s Pan In The City Cruise and Speightstown Market hold tremendous prospects for the North.

From early, the town began to come alive with the sounds of the Rose Hill and Seaman tuk bands, and the aroma reminiscent of those scents you encounter along the Spring Garden Highway when Bridgetown Market is held –– the smell of fishcakes frying, pigtails being barbecued, and other fare.

There were the other vendors plying their trade in various art and craft items, which Barbadians lapped up as the day progressed into the evening.

But what they came mostly for was the pan: the sweet sounds of Panache Steel Orchestra. They came too to see Dancin’ Africa, the Haynesville Drummers And Dancers, and the Danse Nationale Afrique tuk and street dance; and there was also the Kaiso Open Mic, where unknown talent got the opportunity to be discovered before an appreciative audience.

Having Q In The Community in the rural town also brought additional people, which helped to bring Speightstown Alive.

In keeping with the theme Pan In Two Cities, patrons boarded the Jolly Roger in Bridgetown for the coastal cruise to Speightstown to enjoy the sweet steel sounds. After the playing of the National Anthem, and prayer with an impromptu short calypso from Father Clement Paul, which the crowd enjoyed, the Jolly Roger set out on its way.

Aboard were Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Stephen Lashley and King Of The Crop Grantley Hurley and Queen Of The Crop Judy Cumberbatch. For most of the trip, people could be seen sitting and socializing while listening to Okalunde as they played Crop Over hits and other genres of music.

With just a few minutes more to Speightstown veteran calypsonian Red Plastic Bag took to the stage, bringing the crowd to their feet with his hit for Crop Over 2014, That Is Why.

With the crowd now in the mood to party, Biggie Irie came and really took the crowd over the edge with his big tune Pankatang. The sound of the steel pan truly blended well, with patrons moving to the infectious beat.

Minister of Culture Lashley, looking over the massive crowd, as he took in the the sounds of the Sunset Steel Orchestra who brought the curtain down on the growing event, told Bajan Vibes that, by his estimation, the entire venture was “indeed a success”.

“This is bigger than last year. When we came [then] the feedback from the people in the north, particularly Speightstown, was that we should come back and make it bigger, and this year we had a full day, starting with the [Speightstown Market] and of course the cruise.  [Look around], Speightstown is full of people. That tells you that this even is a phenomenal success,” he said, suggesting the initiative was a part of the National Cultural Foundation’s (NCF) to bring the festival back into the community.

Crop Over really is a people’s festival and it is more successful when it is in the community . . . . We have seen it with the Christ Church Carnival . . . . Already the NCF has been bombarded with what we are going to do next year in terns of the Christ Church Carnival.

“This event brings to the north a special treat in terms of Crop Over. I think that what we need to do from here is open up the eyes of the private sector so that they can see the tremendous opportunity [in] having events on a regular basis here in Speightstown,” Lashley added.

In all, it was a full-day event as patrons were treated to the infectious rhythms of the steel pan from groups like RS Pantronics Orchestra, Eastland All Stars and Panache Steel.

Another year, another success, as the National Cultural Foundation brought life to a usually quiet town –– for Crop Over.


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