Blessing of the last cane has become a traditional part of the Crop Over Festival. (Picture by Sandy Pitt.)
Crop Over 2019 will officially get underway on Saturday with the First Citizens Crop Over Launch and Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes in Speightstown, St Peter.
It will raise the Spirits represented by Sonia Williams, Tahirah Gibbons and Andy ‘MRBLOOD’ Armstrong, along with featured artistes the Mighty Gabby, TC, Mikey, Lil’ Rick, Hypasounds, Quon, Marzville and Stiffy.
“The ceremonial delivery of the last canes has always been a traditional celebration and a sign of the end of the harvest,” said National Cultural Foundation (NCF) Cultural Officer Literary Arts and event producer Ayesha Gibson-Gill.
Those heading north for the blessing of the canes will see the annual parade, the traditional blessing and a Folk and Soca infused party. There is a dramatised water ritual which will be recorded for later viewing, but all the other aspects of the event will be streamed live for the first time this year, starting at 3 p.m.
Gibson-Gill said that the event will help to accentuate some of the upcoming events on the Crop Over calendar, highlight our heritage/traditions and to tell the tale of the interesting stories of Speightstown itself.
The NCF has organised a Scavenger Hunt adventure around the area using QR codes to help tell that story of this important Port City in our history.
“It’s a festival for everyone,” Gibson-Gill continued.
Parade manager and NCF Cultural Officer Dance, Alicia Payne-Hurley, said this year’s parade would be one of the largest the NCF has ever produced for this event. There will be about 1 000 participants from almost every school in the north and a cross-section of community groups on the island, performing cultural displays such as the traditional Maypole and Landship dances.
Along with the presentation of the usual traditional characters in colourful costumes such as the shaggy bears, stilt walkers and the mother sally, there will be traditional and modern tuk bands, as well as a drumming presentation from the Israel Lovell Foundation and more.
Payne-Hurley, affectionately termed the ‘Parade Boss’, noted that many Barbadians do not make the link between Crop Over and the significance of sugar cane and the events theme, Journey to the Last Cane, is expected to do just that – demonstrate the positive and negative aspects sugar has had on Barbados.
The parade will start at Queen Street and make its way across Major Walk to the Speightstown Playing Field where the official Opening Ceremony and the annual blessing of the canes will take place. (PR/SAT)