Following a successful Crop Over 2017, the island’s main cultural festival is in for some major changes this year, according to the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Stephen Lashley.
Delivering the feature address at the Crop Over Sponsor’s Reception, a Bariffle of Sounds, Sights & Flavours, held at St Ann’s Fort, he disclosed that the traditional Opening Gala and the Delivery of the Last Canes would be rebranded as Crop Over Xplosion. The official launch of the Crop Over season will be held on June 2.
Lashley also revealed that discussions were underway with a view to including a wild card entry in the Soca Royale competition. This wild card would be selected by the public through either online or text voting.
He also indicated that the three-month festival, which rakes in about $80 million annually, would be more expansive, offering a fusion of cultural experiences.
“Food is a big part of our history and cultural orientation and with culinary tourism also on the rise, the temperature is right for the making of an expanded scope for the Heritage Bus Tour into that arena, to share our wonderful stories of sweet food and rum. The storyline will reference excerpts from Austin Tom Clarke’s PigTails and Breadfruit Culinary Memoir and Errol Barrow’s Cook Book,” the Minister of Culture explained, adding that the popular Crop Over Heritage Walks and Bus Tours were an additional boost to the island’s heritage tourism product.
While describing 2017 as one of the biggest years for the festival, Lashley said Crop Over continued to develop by leaps and bounds.
“It  was one of the biggest years for prizes in the competitions with four vehicles on offer, and for the first time, the inclusion of a vehicle in the category of masquerade for Festival Designer of the Year. Our memories will also include the fact that it was a good year for masquerade on the whole with increases in subventions and prize monies for the bandleaders,” Lashley said.
“From a brand perspective Crop Over itself continues to be a significant investment for your organizations and for individuals alike, because of its global reach and consistently high performance, therefore creating enormous potential to leverage your sponsorship dollars and your brands,” he added.
Also addressing the launch which took place at the Garrison, St Michael, Chairman of the National Cultural Foundation Maureen Graham disclosed that the theme of this year’s festival would be ‘Memories’.
“This year’s themed focus will be centered on the memories, the ties that bind our uniquely packaged 2018 Crop Over experiences together,” said Graham, while calling for more support of “this Barbadian culturescape”.
“We are so much more than just a carnival, with lots more to offer and maintaining that same quality experience and brand positioning in an environment of decreasing budgets across the board remains one of our major hurdles,” she added.