Barbados cancels Crop Over festival due to COVID-19

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BARBADOS’ annual Crop Over festival has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The National Cultural Foundation (NCF), which organises the festival announced the cancellation of Barbados’ Crop Over 2020 on Sunday (Apr. 19), Voice Online reports.

It is not the first time the annual event, a major tourist attraction, has been cancelled in its more than 200-year history.

The festival, which spans three months and culminates with Grand Kadooment, a Mas parade, on the first Monday of August, attracts huge crowds.

Its name stems from the harvest celebration at the end of the sugar cane season.

The news of the cancellation was expected but has unsurprisingly disappointed many, with some raising concerns about the financial impact it will have on local businesses and the country’s economy.

Bryan Worrell, band leader of Colorz Entertainment, which has a presence at both Barbados’ Foreday Morning event and Grand Kadooment, told The Voice the news was expected.

“We, the bandleaders, had a contingency plan to have a carnival type festival in November but that was still hindering on global control of the virus. Projections suggest that by November confidence in social gathering will be low,” he said.

In regards to the financial impact the cancellation will have, Worrell, whose successful band also puts on party cruises throughout the year, said: “This will have a major impact on bands. We make investments each year with a projection to make positive returns within six months. Many of us have already completed our prototypes, photoshoots etc and we won’t be able to recover those expenses until 2021.”

Despite the financial fallout, he was reticent about whether the the government would or should come to the aid of the bands and others who will lose out. “That’s a tricky one because government will also be struggling economically during and after this pandemic so I’m not sure how much assistance we can rely on from them,” Worrell said. “This is all uncharted territory for us so we will be putting our heads together and coming up with some ideas.”

“Crop Over being cancelled was inevitable,” one Twitter user said.

“I knew Crop Over was getting cancelled but now that it’s official my heart hurting me,” another fan of the festival said.

“Real money bout to be lost with Crop Over being cancelled, so yes. we feel a type of way,” one Twitter user said.

The two major festivals will be replaced with a national training programme in schools and communities, and a wide-reaching campaign to both fund and produce radio, television and digital content, the Barbados government announced.

NIFCA, the island’s Independence Arts Festival, which is usually held in November has also cancelled because of the pandemic.

As of Saturday (Apr. 18), Barbados had recorded no additional cases of COVID-19 for the third consecutive day. Overall 75 cases have been confirmed and five people have died on the island.