The Crop Over season for 2023 has officially begun after the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes went smoothly in St Peter yesterday afternoon.
This year’s curtain raiser was hosted at Haymans Market (formerly the Haymans Sugar Factory) in the heart of St Peter as a continued effort to take the event and the Crop Over season on a whole back to its origins.
It was a decision that largely went down well with patrons, with most of them enjoying the jubilant atmosphere and location despite the heat.
One woman who requested not to be named said: “It is better here at Haymans than where it was last year (Portvale Sugar Factory in St Thomas). Last year it was very wet and muddy and the sun was very hot, as it is today. The only thing I was asking for is for them to treat us like the VIPs because the heat is not going to stop until sunset.”
Those who made the trek to St Peter were treated to live performances from most notably the Barbados Police Service Band, Barbados Landship Association and Sunrokk.
However, nothing got the audience more excited than the traditional parade as it came down the long stretch until the main stage. The parade, which included Mother Sallys, landship dancers, Bajan stick lickers, portrayals of King and Queen of the Crop and old school calypso and folk songs, had people leaving their seats and places in the food queues just to get a glimpse of their heritage as it passed by.
Carol Roberts, CEO of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), said in her programme notes that she was beyond grateful for everyone who helped make Crop Over a resounding success, as believes it has now been transformed into a cultural phenomenon that symbolises the essence of Barbados.
“As we officially start the Crop Over Festival, let us cherish the collective spirit that drives us forward and take pride in our ability to create something truly extraordinary,” Roberts continued. “It is your dedication and unyielding commitment that will ensure this year’s festival is a remarkable showcase of our vibrant culture.”
Prior to officially declaring this year’s Crop Over season and its ensuing festivities open, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley saluted those who had earlier won awards for their service and asked Barbadians to remain safe during the season.
“This is our festival. This is our country and it is up to us to make sure we build it from strength to strength. We will not always agree with everything that everybody says during the festival,” she said.
“Do not allow a few drinks to get anybody in trouble. Stay out of trouble, enjoy yourself and let us remind the world of why this is the best festival in the summer in any part of the world.”
Amidst all the action, four people were given awards for their outstanding work in the sugar industry. They are electrical foreman Peterson Graham, mechanical foreman Robert Eugene and bagging room supervisor Cyrilene Fleming, all from Portvale Sugar Factory. The other is Candace Alleyne, a central worker from Applewaithes Farm.
There was also a presentation to Crop Over stalwarts: Betheline West, David Weatherhead, Michael Taitt, Pedro Steryln O’Haro Hunte, Maurice Giles, Cavil Best, Marlon Skeete and Trevor Chase.
Finally there was a Special Crop Over award given to Hallam Sargeant, the senior boiler operator at Portvale Sugar Factory.