With fewer spectators and vendors in attendance, this year’s Bridgetown Market ended up being a major let down for some patrons.
In fact, one woman, who requested anonymity, described this year’s staging as nothing short of “boring”, while recalling that in bygone years the three-day cultural extravaganza was a must-do event for her and her family.
“All of the years that I have been coming, this particular year to me is very low-keyed in terms of people and how the programme was structured,” she said, adding that “whatever the problem is, it needs to be fixed.
“It feels as though it is not the Bridgetown Market that I knew it to be at one time. It is just fading,” she added.
Vendor Shonette Williams was also unhappy with this year’s showing. She explained that Sunday’s turnout was a bit better than Saturday’s, which she described as “a ghost town”, while complaining that sales were extremely slow.
“You are getting half the amount people that you usually get. Normally, you would get more people than this, more spenders, more traffic, but this year is very poor for me,” the small business owner said.
Malcolm Bell of Bell’s Establishment and Accessories expressed similar sentiments. He said of the ten years he has been exhibiting at Bridgetown Market, this year was worst of all.
“The attendance is not like previous markets. From my observations, I feel like the attendance has slashed in half and there is some substantial reason for that. It could be the economic turmoil, which is more substantial right now, or it could be the people need some other flavour to add,” he told Bajan Vibes.
Bell also suggested that the time had come for the National Cultural Foundation to make changes, with a view to attracting more locals and visitors to the annual event.
“If you continue along with a normal routine annually, it could probably create hiccups . . . . You need to enhance it with more activity to attract what you are looking for and what people are looking for too. Some sort of initiative you have to derive to come up with more patronage,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tricia Williams, who was visiting from London, and Alison Darkwah from Kenya were having a jolly time. It was not their first time at Bridgetown Market but the repeat visitors said they enjoyed the ambiance surrounding the Crop Over season as a whole.
“It is not just Bridgetown Market, it is everything combined – the people, the food, the atmosphere, the sunshine. Everyone is happy and smiley. It’s great,” said Williams, who suggested that the showcase should be longer than three days.
Apart from the usual food, drink, craft and toy stalls, two added attractions this year were the finals of the Crop Over Road Tennis competition and a dance and fitness routine put on by Bajantics Dancercise.