Now it’s just three days away. But it seems like it’s the majority of non-nationals who will be hitting the road come Monday.
On Thursday, bands were busy putting final preparations in place.
This year, 23 bands will judge in the Republic Bank Grand Kadooment and they will be joined on the road by the Walk Holy band, Blue Box Cart, the Republic Bank Band, King Of the Road (revellers band) and the HIV/AIDS truck.
The bandleaders all revealed they faced mountainous challenges this year but were pressing ahead.
Khepri Culture was busy at Kensington Mall distributing their costumes, and bandleader Jason Simmons said despite the usual obstacles, they were ready for Monday.
“For a first-year band you know you will have some challenges and obstacles that you have to overcome. Luckily, it’s not a one man show. The band consists of a good team and people that I could call on at any time, so it cuts down on the workload. Everyone came together, so it’s smooth sailing at this point,” he said.
Simmons said their band was made up of 75 per cent non-nationals.
Few spots open
“Our target for our first year is 300 people. We are close there but still have a few spots open. Hopefully, there will be a rush this weekend, I know Bajans are very last- minute. I find it was a bit of a challenge to get locals.
“I know we had elections and the budget, so I think that did affect Crop Over a bit. The non-nationals are still coming to the island but not as much as before because the plane tickets are very high. But for sure we have great support from non-nationals this year,” he explained.
Kontact band will also be hitting the road with many visitors this year.
Representative Kathy Ann Layne said they had about 400 revellers, a slight increase from last year.
“Local registration is down. You’re hearing that everywhere you go. Right now it’s the international people that are sustaining the market. Locals aren’t not jumping, for whatever reason,” she lamented.
At the same time, Layne cautioned the airlines not to charge ridiculous prices coming into the island and deter potential visitors.
“Jet Blue is charging people as much as $1 500 to come to Barbados. . . They are killing Crop Over. The BTMI [Barbados tourism Marketing Inc.] and whoever lets these airlines come here needs to look into it. We are already getting pressure from Jamaica and the other emerging carnivals where the hotels are cheaper and so on. So they need to do something about that,” she said.
Preparations going well
Layne said despite that, preparations were going well and distribution was almost completed.
Over at Blackwoods Screw dock, Sophia Chase, one of the directors of Ooutraje Festival, said several factors had put a damper on the festival, including the economy and a saturated market.
“People can’t afford to go to all these fetes and then buy a costume, so they choose. A lot of people are choosing to fete instead of jumping these days,” she said.
Chase said they were in the distribution phase and had 150 revellers, but they were expecting some first-time visitors to sign up.
Mackie Holder, bandleader of Wednesday 2000 said this year was a “weird” one for him and he was not sure how many people would be jumping.
“It’s a wait and see type thing but I think we are going to have our normal group of people. For me, something is just wrong this Crop Over. I’m not getting the energy. For most people things are down. . . . something is missing. We are going to have fun though, as we usually do,” Holder said.
Veteran bandleader Gwyneth Squires, who just came off of Junior Kadooment and placed second in the Designer Of The Year category, said she was contented with that and was looking forward to Grand Kadooment.
“We are finished making all our costumes. By Sunday evening we should be finished and sold out. I’m feeling good and ready to get on the road Monday,” she said. (DB)