::WEEKLY ENTERTAINMENT NEWS WITH A CANADAN TWIST::

 

 
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::BARBADOS CROP OVER 2007::
August 1-8, 2007
 

  What do you get when you mix scorching humidity with torrential rain?  Barbados Crop Over 2007 Apparently the weather was not typical although the rain does usually fall during Crop Over - just not in these extremes.  Guess we got part of that tropical storm.  Anyways, I have written some tips below for rookie Crop Over attendees to keep in mind for 2008! 

Myself, David Pye (Meeting and Incentive Travel, Montreal) and Alex Waithe (CHIN Radio) were the Canadian journalists on this trip, along with FLOW 93.5 winners and their guests - Valerie Taitt, Clive Picardo, Wayne Singer, Marshall Richards, Jason Howard, Anne-Marie Ellis and Colin Czechowski (all pictured right). 

Scroll down to see the decorative costumes and more!

I stayed at the Accra Beach Hotel in Christ's Church parish, which I highly recommend especially with their newly opened spa and wing of new rooms.  Just beautiful in a great location for easy access to the rest of the island.  Ask for Andre Downes, sales manager as he's a guy that gets things done and handles high maintenance people like me with ease!  A special thanks also to John Martineau, General Manager of Accra Beach for the gifts and genuine and special treatment. 

[CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE]


Thank you also to the Barbados Tourism Authority, for giving me this opportunity and of special mention is Ruth Phillips, for taking care of our needs no matter what and with integrity.  Pictured here with me is Ruth Phillips, BTA and Ciara Lavalle, freelance journalist from Miami as we attended the opening night welcome BBQ at Accra Beach Hotel. 


Crop Over – what is it you ask?  Well, what does your mind envision when you think “Caribana” or how about “Carnival”?  Barbados, as usual, serves up their festival with precise execution and a unique blend of events.  Overall, it is a five-week summer festival. 

Why is it called Crop Over?  Its origins can be traced back to the 1780's, a time when 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 - the Crop Over celebration.  As the sugar industry in Barbados declined, so too did the Crop Over festival and in the 1940's the festival was terminated completely. However, the festival was revived in 1974 and other and more modern elements of Barbadian culture were infused to make the extravaganza that exists today - an event that attracts thousands of people from across the globe. Even today, the Crop Over King and Queen are those who've actually harvested the most sugar cane.

::Catamaran Cruise - Friday, August 3, 2007::                                                        

First order of business on Friday, August 3rd?  A Tiami catamaran cruise with a crew of local ships men.  An afternoon of snorkelling with the gorgeous fishes, swimming and the turtles .... ohhh the turtles.  It was a mostly sunny day, which would be one of our only ones.

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Richard of the Tiami crew

Fish feeding

Dawn and Ciara Lavelle, Miami journalist

Dawn, post-goosing from a turtle!

Ken Webb and Eric Coswell

::Pic-O-De Crop Finals – Friday, August 3, 2007::                                                   

One of the most popular events during Crop Over, the Finals of the Pic-O-De-Crop is a tension-filled and exciting competition at the National Stadium when ten vocal finalists compete for the year's Pic-O-De-Crop crown and top prizes. The competition is strongly supported by locals and is the climax of weeks of tent performances by the calypsonians, who each sing two songs before a panel of judges who award points based on lyrics, content, performance, melody and diction.

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Host Macfingall

Winner of Finals, Red Plastic Bag

Red Plastic Bag

Packed house at National Stadium

Background vocalists

Blood

Adrian Clarke

T.C.

Sheldon Hope

Smokey Burke

Rommel

Kid Site

Blood

Enobong

De Announcer

This year’s host was MacFingall who was recently in Toronto for the World Comedy Clash representing Barbados, held the audience captive with his comedic antics and kept the momentum of the evening at high energy.  Calypso music and calypso competitions are a huge part of the Crop Over Festival. Every performer is judged on their social commentary or party songs for the Pic-O-De-Crop and Party Monarch competitions in Barbados.  A style of calypso music called 'picong' which is from the French word "piquant" meaning cutting or stinging means making jokes about someone in front of his/her face, was interwoven into many artist's performances.

This year’s winner of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition was the legendary, Red Plastic Bag.  A definite audience favourite with revellers wearing Red Plastic Bags on their heads or wearing red in support.  Impressive to me that after a night of celebrating his victory, Bag showed up to press conference early the next morning to sing the praises of Bajan calypso talent pool and the needed funding to keep it alive.  He is clearly a spokesperson for the genre and despite his absence from the competition for three years, his return signifies that legends do survive, despite the mere 3 points that he won the crown by!  It has been said that the quality of the competition had dropped in his absence from the game but Kid Site was the reigning king meanwhile.  Bag has been an island favourite for years and had won the competition for 7 years.  He is known for his songwriting skills and the quality and consistency of his calypso.  With his veteran colleagues, namely, Gabby, John King, Serenity and Invader, among others, rumoured to be retiring, he stands tall with pride for the natural culture of calypso. (With notes from Martin Jay, Choice FM, U.K.)

::Bridgetown Spring Garden - Saturday, August 4, 2007::                                      

The famous Spring Garden Highway is the heart of the Festival for the final three days of its calendar. The entire stretch of road is converted to a bustling marketplace of art and craft, produce, fashion and foods of all kinds. Visitors to the market can also enjoy a wide variety of entertainment from tuk bands, steelbands, dance groups, folk and gospel groups and calypsonians.

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Spring Garden band

Spring Garden's police

Spring Garden vendors

Spring Garden shoppers

::Dreamland Fete - Saturday, August 4, 2007::                                                       

Now you may have heard of 'fetes' which are the late night parties that surround the Crop Over festivities - a incredibly popular island favourite.  The one that we went to on Saturday night was entitled "Dreamland" sponsored by one of the mas camps, Power X Four.  A wonderful experience from beginning to end as we were greeted by scantily clad young men and women with free drinks - what more could you ask?  This as a night where the journalists from all over Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean and Europe could cut loose a little and enjoy a fete!  Dreamland was an island version of Cirque du Soleil of sorts with monkeys, angels, mermaids and lots more.  Given the theme name, lots of people were dressed in their sleepwear - and lack thereof! 

Well, see for yourself - what a gorgeous group of people!  And a surprise guest came in the door - see the last picture.  A little something for everyone in these pics!

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Moko Jumbie ("stiltwalkers")

Ciara Lavelle and Dreamland reveller

Ken Webb and Dreamland angels

Dreamland mermaid

Dreamland mermaids

Ciara and Andre Jebbinson

Ciara, Ken and Tracey Webb

David Pye and Heineken girls

Dreamland attendee

Dreamland revellers (to say the least!)

Dawn, Laurent and Andre wukking up

Laurent and Jordan show their stuff

Revellers!

Dreamland 'monkey'

Dreamland angel

Ciara and Laurent acting up

Dreamland babes

Dreamland attendee

Dreamland attendees

Emmanual Lewis

::Island Safari - Sunday, August 5, 2007::                                                              

Only a few hours sleep and we were off to do the 4 x 4 Land Rover tour of the island to check out some of the secret beauty of Barbados.  I highly recommend this tour for some folklore tips and some real 4x4ing through the woods and unbelievable scenery!  Just like a postcard.

David Pye and Alex Waithe

::Cohobblopot - Sunday, August 5, 2007::                                                              

Back to the National Stadium for Cohobblopot, (a potpourri of cultural talent) which is an event that includes performances by some of the hottest musical bands and calypsonians. (Note: Slaves on plantations to describe a stew with a variety of ingredients used the word “Cohobblopot”).  It is also when the Kings and Queens of the costumed bands parade before a panel of judges.

Macfingall hosted again with his crazy antics but having the crowd in the palm of his hands the entire evening.  This was one of my favourite nights with a great live band and several artists bringing their talents to the stage - a big night with lots of local talent that included many icons of calypso including the winner of Pic-O-De-Crop Red Plastic Bag, John King, Observer and Serenader along with soca artists among them, Gregory Ayuen and Mr. Dale.

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MacFingall, host

MacFingall, flirting from stage with Ciara Lavelle

Cohobbopot crowd

John King

Red Plastic Bag

MacFingall

Pompey

Hypasound

Observer

Cohobblopot dancer

Adonijah

John King

Cohobblopot dancers

Serenader

Malcolm X, Stylez P & Rameses

Macfingall and Ras Iley

Gregory Ayuen

Ras Iley and dancers

Cohobblopot dancers

Cohobblopot finale

The anticipated arrival on stage by dancehall artist, Mr. Vegas (known for hits like 'Hot Wuk' and 'Nike Air') lit up the night and was by far the highlight of the night.  Feeling that he was too far from the stage and his fans (as did most of the artists who performed), he jumped off the stage, through the media pit and eventually over the fence and into the fans!  The crowd ate it up and it ignited an already hot night. 

Iwer George had the unfortunate position of taking the stage after Mr. Vegas but still managed to bring an excitement to the night with hit hot lyrics.  Mr. George sang his hit “Fete After Fete” which recently won the title of International Soca Monarch 2007.

Mr. Vegas performs

Mr. Vegas performs

Mr. Vegas jumps into the media pit

Iwer George performs

Iwer George moves closer to his audience

::Kadooment - Monday, August 6, 2007::                                                                

The biggest event of them all for Crop Over - Grand Kadooment Day.  The colours of the rainbow were represented as the rain came down but did not diminish the spirits of the mas camps.  It's a spectacular daytime street carnival with a procession of thousands of Crop over costumed band revellers, partying from the National Stadium where they parade before a panel of judges. Each band that entered the stadium were not only announced but their themes and leaders were also announced in an informative narrative. 

They then take to the streets where it becomes a huge all day street party / jump up to the Spring Garden Highway.  All this in extreme weather and despite the torrential rain at times which are revealed in the pictures below, the revellers really didn't seem to mind and I was told that most hoped for rain as otherwise it can be scorching.  You'll see some Canadian flags there as well!

We got soaked both by humidity and the rain but few were bothered but for me, the confessed rookie, it did put a damper on the festivities during and afterwards.  Perhaps if I go back, I will embrace it!

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Refugees - Purple Rain

Mas Explosion - Caribana

Campus Boyz – Aurora

Power X Four – Ablaze

Power X Four – Ablaze

Power X Four - Sonic Boom

Power X Four – Pulse

Kadooment costumer

Outraje 2007 - Sleeping Bride

Outraje 2007 - Sleeping Bride

Outraje - Pin Pun She

Outraje - Ossi Moore

Outraje - Ossi Moore

Baje International

Baje International - The Lost Tribe

Baje International - Ivory Coast

Baje International

Baje International - Storms of Africa

Baje International - Myth of the Mermaid

Baje International - Myth of the Mermaid

Baje International - Myth of the Mermaid

Betty West - Opening Gala

Betty West - Crop Over On a Platter

Betty West - Pan on De Sand

Betty West - Foreday Morning

Radikal - Plantation Life

Campus Boyz - Feng Shui

Campus Boyz - Sahara

Campus Boyz – Aurora

Campus Boyz – Aurora

Kadooment costumer

Kadooment costumer

Mas Explosion - Trinidad

Euphoria - Celebration

Euphoria

Jump - Los Desperados

Jump - Colonial Royalty

St. Lucia Contingent - Jordan Alleyne

Macfingall

Carnival Carnage

All in all this was a good trip despite the busy itinerary and timetable we were assigned.  But I was lucky to have had the opportunity to meet and hang out with great and funny journalists.  Would have liked to have attended more fetes and spent more time going to local hangouts though - I think it's the only way you experience Crop Over the way that the locals do. 

::People Pics::                                                                                                          

Ciara Dave Dawn at Cohobblopot Crystal and Syrenity at Press Conference Marshall Richards and Syrenity at Cohobblopot Ciara and Dave at Dreamland Ciara and Dave at Dreamland
         
Dave, Dawn, Patrick and Ciara Laurent and Fete reveller Ciara, Dawn, Ken and Tracey Webb Patrick and mermaid Dave, Patrick, Dawn and Ken
 
Sam (Tiami) and Maria (Accra) Dawn in the rain
(again) at Kadooment
Martinique crew Caribbean crew  
         


::Crop Over Tips for Rookies::                                                                                 

1.  Pack an umbrella and rain poncho and bring lightweight clothing.

2.  Drink a Banks, the local beer and definitely order 'mac pie', the Bajan version of macaroni and cheese - scrumptious!

3.  Embrace the word 'fete' and find as many as you can - the high price includes drinks and sometimes live music.

4.  Go on the Tiami catamaran cruise which includes snorkelling, jet skiing, swimming and an on-board lunch. 

5.  Go on the Island Safari on a day before going to a fete (unlike us who had very little sleep and then had to get in a jeep!) Very informative and lots of stops for photo ops.

6.  In grey or sunny weather, sunscreen sunscreen sunscreen!


::Check out More Crop Over Coverage::                                                                  

 

Webb Internet Radio - http://www.kenwebb.com/jp_Barbados.html