The origins of Crop Over
THE EARLIEST REFERENCE to the Crop Over Festival was in the writings of the manager of Newton Plantation, who indicated to the estate owner resident in England that he held a ‘dinner and sober dance’ for the slaves.
For the planter it meant that the last of the year’s sugar was finally ready for shipping and for the slaves it meant the end of what was normally the longest and the most exhausting part of the working year.
It appeared the festival was celebrated in all islands where sugar was the mainstay of the economy.
By the Twentieth Century the festival seemed to have died out and the modern Crop Over was revived in 1974 by a board of Tourism Committee headed by Julian Marryshow with the purpose of increasing visitor arrivals to Barbados’ shores in what was the slow season.
It was the Bajan Calypsonian the late Edric ‘Mighty Dragon’ Jordan who was instrumental in making calypso a dominant feature of Crop Over today.
The revised festival then became the responsibility of the then Ministry of Culture and the National Cultural Foundation, NCF and since then has gone through several changes.
Photos from the private collection of G. Addinton Forde
For more information on Crop Over go to the A-Z of Barbadian Heritage