Barbados’ premier cultural showcase, the 2022 Crop Over Festival will be officially unveiled on Saturday, July 2, with a reimagined Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes.
In what is expected to be the most spectacular opening ceremony of the annual summer festival, the team at the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) has invested significant time and resources into making the launch event a must-see extravaganza for the entire family.
The NCF is taking the event back to its core beginnings – the village and the sugar factory for the grand opening of the first Crop Over Festival being staged after Barbados became a Republic eight months ago.
New concepts have been added to this year’s ceremony, which is themed: Sugar Mek it Sweet. Among the key highlights will be a Vintage Calypso Tent featuring stalwarts such as Destroyer, Pompey, Bumba, Kid Site, Serenader, Poonka, Gabby, Blood, and Eric Lewis. They will be joined by members of the newer brigade such as Ishaka MacNeil, Ian Webster, Keisha and Quon.
Another innovation for 2022 is the heritage fair to be staged for the first time at a sugar factory yard. Portvale Sugar Factory at Blowers, St James, will be transformed from an industrial facility to a living museum, showcasing arts, craft, spirits, food, dance, demonstrations, and entertainment.
The excitement, however, starts at 2 p.m. at the Rock Hall Freedom Park in St Thomas, the home of Barbados’ first free village, following emancipation of slaves on the island. A re-enactment of crop over during enslaved times will take place there, transporting patrons through to the modern festival that is now of economic and historical significance.
Chief Executive Officer of the NCF, Mrs. Carol Roberts-Reifer, stated: “Our team, with the support of event sponsor, the Barbados Agricultural Management Company, has worked tirelessly to create an evening of education, entertainment, food, history, appreciation, reverence, praise, in recognition of the sugar industry and festival stalwarts.”
Event Coordinator, Stacia Bryan, is ecstatic about the first event of this year’s truncated festival. Though impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bryan assured that the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes & Vintage Calypso Tent was designed as a safe, family friendly event that satisfies the public’s desire for release after two years of restrictions and cancelled live events due to COVID.
From the Rock Hall Freedom Park, the procession, led by the Sons of God Apostolic Church, heads to Portvale Factory Yard in a mile-long parade featuring colourful contingents of drummers, 16 stilt walkers, an Old Masquerade comprising Barbados Workers’ Union sugar workers, and dancers, with musical accompaniment.
The cultural presentation will feature folk characters such as Mudda Sallys, Shaggy Bears, Tuk Band and carts carrying the last canes of the 2022 sugar harvest, as well as byproducts of the sugar cane. An array of locally-made delicacies will be on sale.
The parade route will allow for generous viewing and photography to capture the activities which will also include a T-Shirt band and steelpan players, as well as the Land Ship. Dancers from the Haynesville Youth Club and the Israel Lovell Foundation will also form part of the parade.
At the transformed Portvale Sugar Factory, a dazzling display of modern and vintage Kadooment and Foreday Morning costumes will be featured. As the parade arrives, it will be followed by the Barbados Defence Force Zouave Band, while the last canes will be delivered and blessed.
In its pursuit to educate Barbadians generally about their cultural heritage and to reinforce the link between agriculture and the modern Crop Over Festival, the NCF has designed the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes to recreate the traditional Bajan Fair. This will include activities such as workshops on tie dye, basketry, face painting, stick licking, mixology, product sampling, and traditional Bajan food.
A fair is not a fair without the presence of the Barbados Police Force Band.