Crop Over-A sweet summer taste of Barbados

Crop Over is a summer (June to early August) festival held annually in Barbados. The origins of Crop Over can be traced back to as early as the 1780's. At that time, Barbados was the world's largest producer of sugar. At the end of the sugar season, there was always a huge celebration to mark the culmination of another successful sugar cane harvest – thus came the Crop Over celebration, now a festival loved by Bajans and tourists alike.

The sugar industry in Barbados began a steady decline into the mid-1900s. As the industry declined, so too did the Crop Over festival. In fact, in the 1940's the festival was terminated completely. Luckily, it was revived in 1974 when a bigger, better version of crop over was unleashed. It was infused with other elements of Barbadian culture, making it the extravagant festival it is today, a world class event that attracts thousands of people from across the globe.

More Than Just Carnival

While crop over is a variation of carnival celebrations, it has morphed into a celebration that is distinctly unique from the Carnival festivities in other Caribbean countries. Many traditional folk elements such as the local cultural characters infuse with modern additions to give this festival a character unlike any other in the Caribbean. Celebrations are vibrantly colourful and full of lively music and great food, revealing all aspects of Barbadian culture through exhibitions of art, craft, and dance.

Activities During The Crop Over Festival

Barbados' Crop Over Festival activities and events are many and varied with plenty of things to do for everyone's taste. To mark the true and original meaning of the festival, it begins with the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes and the crowning of the King and Queen of the Festival – the most productive male and female cane cutters of the season.

Calypso

Of course, music is an integral part of any Caribbean festival, Crop over being no different. Calypso is one of the main features of the Crop Over festival. In fact, the calypsonians are organised into "tents" sponsored by Barbados businesses. They fiercely compete for several prizes and titles, including the Party Monarch, the Pic-O-De-Crop Monarch and the Road March Monarch. The Party Monarch and more recently the Sweet Soca competition are among the festivals most popular events! The finals of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition is held at Kensington Oval, and this is followed by the Fore-Day Morning Jump-Up!

Shows and More Shows

Numerous shows are held during crop over time. However, Cohobblopot is the largest and most spectacular. Rich with the spirit of local culture, "The Cohobblopot" blends drama, dance, and music. It is a huge carnival-like show with members of the Kadooment bands displaying their vibrant and elaborate costumes. There is also a huge entertainment package with the most popular calypsonians, backed by top bands performing to jubilant audiences.

Folk concerts and art and photographic exhibitions are also held.  These are integral parts of the festival, highlighting Barbadian history and culture as well as the artistic talents of Bajans.

For The Children

Of course, the children are not left out of the celebrations. They get to participate in the Kiddies Kadooment, wearing beautiful costumes and joining their friends in bands to parade before the judges of the competition.

The Grand Finale

Probably the most intriguing and spectacular part of crop over is the grand finale-the Grand Kadooment! It is a national holiday when featured costume bands fill the streets with pulsating Barbadian rhythms and fireworks fill the evening sky. The Grand Kadooment features a parade with large bands with members dressed in elaborate costumes to depict various themes. Designers compete for the coveted Designer of the Year prize while the patrons have a good time.

At the end, they all make their way to Spring Garden accompanied by the pulsating rhythm of calypso music. When they reach Spring Garden, the party continues with more fantastic music, lots of food and drink and, for some, a quick swim at the nearby beach, marking a grand end to a wonderful festival.  Navito. (TCC)

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