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Scores of Barbadians and visitors braved the scorching heat and turned up at the National Stadium in Waterford, St Michael this morning to witness the parade of costume bands at Grand Kadooment, signalling the climax of the 2018 Crop Over Festival.
While five registered bands failed to turn up, this did not diminish the impact, which the other remaining 19 had on the event that brought out a potpourri of sights and scenes.
The stadium track was awash with all the colours of the rainbow as revellers from 16 bands went all out to depict their myriad themes before a panel of judges and expertly choreographed their dance moves to the popular soca tunes of the season.
The Walk Holy Band, as usual, started the parade soon after the playing of the National Anthem at 8.30 a.m. sharp. They were quickly followed by the Republic Bank Band and Blue Box Cart Band. These bands were not among the competitors.
This year’s street party also saw a new feature. For the first time ever, staff of the HIV/AIDS Commission, accompanied by Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde took to the stadium track to make a statement regarding the dangers associated with the disease.
The members of the group, some wearing red T-shirts and others white, displayed one simple message:Make sure your Crop Over don’t lead to exposure:Use a condom.
Minister Forde said she came out to support the “tremendous” work of the Commission, which has been bringing awareness to people about the need to live a healthy lifestyle and not to discriminate, particularly at the workplace.
In keeping with tradition, Grand Kadooment continues to produce its full share of celebrities and personalities.
Among those who joined in the grand party were President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall, Caribbean Soca Queen Alison Hinds, Chairman of the National Anti-doping Commission Dr Adrian Lorde, Chairman of The Barbados Today Inc. Peter Harris, multiple crown calypso monarch Red Plastic Bag and Joel Stephens of One Caribbean Television with his famous parrot.
Those costume bands which have become “a staple” of Grand Kadooment were back again in all their creative splendor hoping to capture more top prizes.
The list includes Betty West who came with We Celebrating Soca Royalty – a tribute to Red Plastic Bag – Gwyneth Squires’ Paint Me A Paradise, Wednesday 2,000, Xhosa Barbados, Baje International, Kontact Band, Ooutraje Festival Band, Zulu International and Sixth Element Mass.
“It is great when your own people can recognize the work that you are doing. It also augurs well for the level of respect and regard the people have for Crop Over. I am happy that I can make a contribution to Crop Over that is so important to us. We are having a great day here today and I’m looking forward to the rest of it. I think we are going to have a wonderful time all the way down to Spring Garden,” RPB told Barbados TODAY at the National Stadium after a brief pause from parading with the Betty West Band before the judges.
The NUPW President was also enjoying partying with the band Xhosa, which this year depicted the Circle of Life. However, he had some doubts about being able to jump all the way to Spring Garden where the parade ends.
“I am feeling good, I am feeling good. I mean, I just came across the stage and I feeling extremely tired. I am not as young as I used to be. One time I could have done every party for Crop Over and still do Kadooment Day and have enough energy to make it through the week,” he complained.
However, he said this year’s Festival was very good even as he gave kudos to the artists who produced the music.
One band meanwhile is calling on the Mia Mottley-led Government to provide leaders with incentives that would help reduce the cost of producing costume bands every year and making Barbados more competitive with other Caribbean countries.
“Three years ago, we said….for Crop Over to survive based on the information we had back then, it’s going to need the influx of overseas people to keep the market going. So everything that we have done is to bring those individuals to Barbados and strengthen the dollar here and to keep people coming to Barbados,” owner of Krave The Band Avery Hackett told Barbados TODAY.
Hackett said he knew Barbados was going to have stiff competition from countries like Jamaica, St Lucia, Grenada, St Marten and the Bahamas, which he said, were doing a lot better.
“All those places are getting a lot better and people are finding other places to go to. So what is Barbados going to do differently to keep people coming. Is it the price, are we getting concessions so we can lower the pricing of the costumes to keep people coming. We got to do something or else we are going to keep failing. This is a big year for us. If you look at all the bands that came through so far, everybody is down about 25 per cent,” he said, adding that other islands are up by a similar percentage.