After taking a big blow for two years, Barbados’ entertainment sector made major attempts to rebound during 2022.
And for the first time in a while, the country was a nation of shows – as significant events such as the Crop Over Festival, many of the traditional and new Independence activities, Hennessy Artistry, the vibrancy of St Lawrence Gap and party cruise culture all returned in earnest.
At the top of the year, patrons and event staff were required to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status, or present a negative test that had to be taken 24 hours before.
However, there was some pushback from the members of the entertainment fraternity who believed they were being unduly targeted.
Their contention continued after the Government announced in February that Crop Over would return later in the year.
During those months, there was a slew of scheduled fetes and cruises, but some had to be cancelled as promoters blamed the protocols for the low turnout.
By late June, the Government removed those protocols and people were allowed to party unencumbered just in time for the official start of the festival.
The Crop Over Festival is held during the Season of Emancipation (April to August 27), which is intended to commemorate and recognise the sacrifices, struggle and resilience of our ancestors.
From June to early August, there were at least 70 events.
Powda was the first major event and attracted thousands in the return to Vaucluse Raceway, in St Thomas.
That was quickly followed by the National Cultural Foundation’s official start, with the reimagined Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes, which occurred nearby at Rock Hall Freedom Park.
During the event, spectators lined the streets of Rock Hall and parts of the Ronald Mapp Highway as the members of the Spiritual Baptist Church, dancers, actors and the traditional donkey cart and donkey, transported the ‘last’ canes and the effigy Mr Harding, from the park to Portvale Sugar Factory.
To showcase the historical and economical value of the festival the actors re-enacted crop over during enslaved times, as others showed how the festival evolved over the years. While at the factory, the patrons stayed to watch the Vintage Calypso Tent.
Some of the other national events included Foreday Morning Jam and Grand Kadooment. For the first time, masqueraders took over the ABC Highway and ended at the National Botanical Gardens, where there was a free concert.
The Pic-O-De-Crop calypso competition also returned and monarch Dequon “Quon” Alleyne made history when he became the first contestant to exit the Junior Monarch competition and go straight to the Pic-O-De-Crop stage and win on senior debut.
There were many impressive events including Mimosa, Lifted, Lost in Paradise, and Bliss, which pulled out all the stops, as the promoters aimed to leave a positive impression after being away for so long.
Tipsy All White Party not only had locals talking for days, but the event made international headlines due to headliner Burna Boy, who performed at the event and simultaneously kicked off his Love, Damini world tour.
Other standouts included Soca On De Hill, although the event was postponed from mid-July to after Grand Kadooment, they still attracted thousands to Farley Hill.
After the festival ended in August, concert lovers returned to the National Botanical Gardens for Summa Fest, which was headlined by Jamaican dancehall artiste Skillibeng, and Shensea who stole the show.
Although there was a bit of a lull from September to October, the action-packed November and December more than made up for those months.
During November as the country celebrated Independence and one full year of becoming a parliamentary republic, NIFCA returned.
Scores of dancers, singers, artists, actors, culinary artists, and other cultural practitioners got the opportunity to showcase their skills at various events during the month.
There were other traditional activities throughout the month such as the Spirit of the Nation, and the Independence Day Parade which thousands march through Bridgetown. Fete chasers were also not left out as there were just over 40 events held during November which some labelled Crop Over part two and Bimdependence.
Imagine Weekend was among those events. It was a combination of events such as Twisted in Paradise, Turnt, We Ting and Iconic which Beenie Man headlined.
Bajan superstar Rihanna also made an appearance in the crowd and later backstage when she took a photo with an injured Beenie.
Veteran dancehall artist Bounty Killer, who missed his opportunity to perform at Iconic with Beenie Man, finally showed up at Imagine Live, but Trinidadian Machel Montano was the showstopper.
The Holiday calendar was also packed with over 30 events which included the return of Hennessy Artistry and the Artistry weekend.
Some of the headliners included Elephant Man, Jashii, Skeng, and American Grammy award winner Ashanti. (TG)