The growth of Crop Over confirms that even in challenging economic times, people all over the world respond positively to entertainment.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, made this assertion last Saturday, during his feature address at the 2013 Crop Over Opening Gala and Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes in Queen???s Park.

He said the growth of Barbados??? annual summer festival was a welcomed development, and noted that the Foreday Morning Jam, Grand Kadooment and ???a new dimension of Heritage Events,??? were increasing in popularity.

???Crop Over is clearly the people???s festival,??? he said, adding that some 21,000 revellers were expected to be on the road with 46 registered bands for the Foreday Morning Jam.?????From the time Foreday Morning was introduced in 1995, this event has been showing significant growth. But over the last three years, it has shown its largest percentage of growth,??? he noted.

Responding to public concerns that this event could threaten Grand Kadooment, he assured patrons at the Gala, this was unlikely to happen.

???As the Foreday Morning Jam is growing, so is Grand Kadooment. Already this year, there has been an increase in the number of bands registering for Grand Kadooment. It is expected that there will be some 30,000 people on the road,??? he said, also stating that groups from Cuba and Dominica have indicated interest in participating in the festivities.

The Culture Minister said: ???This phenomenal growth of Crop Over confirms the assertion that even in challenging economic times, people, the world over, respond positively to entertainment of this nature.???

He continued: ???With greater numbers of participants, there will, of course, be greater opportunities for festival stakeholders to earn revenue. Vendors, artists, promoters, restaurants, hotels, car rental companies, [and] taxi operators will all benefit.???

Mr. Lashley identified Heritage as another noticeable growth area, and stressed that the phenomenal response to this year???s inaugural Heritage Month demonstrated there was economic value in this area.

Encouraging nationals to take advantage of these ???money making opportunities???, he stressed, ???Every Barbadian should make a point to take ownership of our heritage and use his or her creative imagination to devise ways of exploiting this potential.???

He pointed to various Heritage Month activities as examples of success. ???Some hotels were trying to book groups on the Sunday [of the Heritage Walk], when the walk was already sold out. Some people turned up without tickets and, unfortunately, had to be turned away. People called from overseas, enquiring whether the events of Heritage Month would be offered again later in the festival,??? he outlined.

Minister Lashley praised the National Cultural Foundation for producing the ???appealing and well-structured events which allow Barbadians and visitors to learn about our history and our tangible and intangible heritage.?????

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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