Thousands of revellers jumped up, gyrated and 'wuk-kup' themselves into a frenzy as they partied themselves behind 21 bands on the way from the Barbados National Stadium to Spring Garden to bring the curtains down on Crop Over 2002.
Twelve point seven inches of rain did not dampen the spirit of the revellers in their passion, an intensity, matched only by the pulsating beat of drums and calypso music.
A sea of shimmering colors, blue, green, red, yellow, and orange stretched for miles and miles. A generator failure during the first half of the Heineken Beer/EAS Field White Rum Pic-0-de-Crop Finals at the National Stadium did not prevent Red Plastic Bag (Stetson Wiltshire) from being selected Calypso Monarch 2002, for the sixth time in his 20 year career. RPB had just begun his first tune when the lights went out. He returned later to finish SAM, a powerful presentation of twin towers labelled love and peace, with RPB appearing in a Bin Laden costume followed by an armed soldier on the hunt for him.
The crowd was captured by the song in which Red Plastic Bag referred on several occasions to Bin Laden, with the chorus of "terror, terror" and the warning to the United States by Bin Laden. He ended his presentation with two loud explosions on stage followed by the collapsing of the two towers.
When RPB was announced as the Calypso Monarch, pandemonium broke loose as hundreds of fans swarmed the stage, catching the police off-guard and sending them scurrying on stage to form a barricade around Prime Minister Owen Arthur. Newsmen and photographers were also caught off guard, but only momentarily.
The new King drove away with a fully-loaded Subaru Impreza, two first class tickets to New York on Caribbean Star, a trophy presented by the Prime Minister, and $10,000.
Most of those in the finals night at the National Stadium came out with blazing guns, ready to take the crown, but RPB came out on top, dressed for the first half with blazing red and later with a white Bin Laden outfit including a turban. In the Stadium there were thousands of red flags, umbrellas, clothing, plastic bags, scarves, rags, flashing lights, and even men painted red.
Kid Site, another veteran on the scene came in second and received a $5,000 check from the Barbados Prime Minister. Kid Site was a crowd favorite from the moment he went on stage, touching on the several matters facing Barbados: unemployment, inflation, corruption in Government circles, and serious economic issues facing Barbadians. His first presentations were entitled 'Too Malicious' and 'Dangerous', followed in the second half with 'Stop De Cover-up'. Both songs were well received, and from the crowd's reaction, it became clear that it was a close race between Kid Site and RPB.
Third place winner, John King received a check for $1,500. His first rendition as 'Fuh Cree' was well received. He opened his presentation with a film dramatization of an old calypsonian named "Cree", asking King to render a song for him. This was followed by 'Body Talk' featuring two models. It spoke of a woman's body in its entirety and projected women in a different light.
The fourth prize of $500 went to li'l Rick with his first presentation, entitled 'Doh Tell Me So', followed by an upbeat performance entitled 'Owing'. Owing was well received as a good effort with the necessary ingredients of good presentation.
The competition set the stage for the Becks Beer/Cockspur Surge Cohobblopot, also held at the National Stadium. The Queen's competition came before the King's competition and first place went to Spring Garden, a costume worn by Pat Harding, which displayed in colors of green, white, and silver. It was sponsored by Mount Gay Rum and is described as 100 percent Bajan.
The second prize went to the costume called "Freedom Fighter", worn by Michelle Lewis. The costume depicted a meaningful aspect associated with Barbados' national culture. The large face in the middle is a symbol of African peoples who fought for freedom. It is richly decorated with the bright red, white, yellow, black, and green feathers. The two large shields, which is on each side of the front, serves as a form of protection and is decorated with animal skins, skins of tigers, lions and other fierce animals adorned with rich colored feathers.
Third place went to "Kiss of the Sun" worn by Cheryl Roach. Glittered coconut sticks, dried leaves, coconut and palm branches are used to create a flaming sun above the shoulders of the masquerader. Wire, cane, fiberglass, and aluminium rods are used to create the frame of the costume.
In the King's competition, the "Masquerade", worn by Tyrone Augustine, was a crowd favorite and won first.place. The costume represents the splendor of the National Crop Over Festival as it climaxes into a sea of color with the final parade of the bands. The Masquerador is 100 percent Bajan, with the colors of the national flag, the blue and the gold and the black.
"Worms in the Big Apple", worn by Jeffery Browne, placed second (opening photo). A magnificent creation of color and structure, it stands 15 feet high and has a span of eight feet. The body of the costume is fabricated from steel, aluminium, wire, cane, fiberglass rods, and covered in foam. The main structure is a big red apple, cut to reveal its core and infested by a big worm and a few of his friends."Worms In the Big Apple" eating it at the core, is a satirical look of how evil in one of its manifestations can neat the core of society.
This was followed by "The Flight of the Flying Fish" from Cable and Wireless and worn by George Collymore, who placed third. The design paid homage to the most spectacular of flying creatures...the Bajan flying fish. The massive creature stands 25 feet tall and has a span of 23 feet, a combination of aluminium and fiberglass rods, creating the frames for fins and wings.
Silver mesh highlights the main wings of the creature. The Masquerador portrays the body of the fish, wearing a full-body suit including skullcap in the characteristic blue and silver hues. The message was clear..."get the message"...the Flight of the Flying Fish...here to stay.
But undoubtedly the night belonged to Rupee as he wowed the estimated 16,000 fans. He started on a sensuous note with 'Tempted to Touch', before launching into 'Frenemy' and the frenzy-inspiring tune, 'This is Carnival'. He increased the temperature of the crowd with a burst of energy, spurred by the haunting horn strains of his 'Road March' contender: 'Festival'. Rupee went all out in his performance of that song as well as 'Frenemy' and 'Tempted to Touch', scrambling down from the stage and onto a cameraman's platform to be close to the crowd. While the crowd reacted with enthusiasm, the cameraman expressed his displeasure and walked off the platform only returning when asked to do so by his supervisor. Renee, who was the 2000 Road March winner, told the crowd: "They can't keep me down."
The curtain came down with Ricky "Li'l Rick" Reid taking a second crown as his 'Hypa Daw' won "Tune of the Crop." Band leader Gwyneth Squires conceded "The Large Band Of The Year" title for the first time in six years, to designer Chris Williams and bandleader Chesterfield Haynes, with their production, "Cable and Wireless Contact". Contact not only won the prestigious Large Band Of The Year category but also came away with top prizes in the Historical, Fantasy, Traditional, Topical, and Most Colorful Band categories.
Squires won for the second time, the annual Robert Weekes Award for Best Festival Designer, a category which was created last year. She also won first prize in the Advertising, Best Individual Male, Best Individual Female, Best Flag Person, Best Presentation, and Best Band On The Road.
Also in winners' row were Brian Corbin for Small Band of the Year; Rosanne Lewis, who took top spot in the Community Costume Band category; and Betty West for Best Environmental Band.
The Festival was described as the most successful in its 28-year-old history, with 16 of 21 registered bands parading at the National Stadium before making the eight kilometer route to Spring Garden. At 7.30 in the evening, when the last of the bands switched off power, thousands of Barbadians were still in Spring Garden whining and singing 'Hypa Dawg, Hypa Dawg'. Runner-up for the Tune Of The Crop was Rupee's 'This is Carnival', while 'Road Jam' by Edwin Yearwood took third spot.
Li'l Rick's Hypa Dawg mania gripped almost everything and everyone in its path. Not only was the song one of the most played by the costumed bands, but several hundred spectators wore printed and hand written T-shirts, bandanas, wash cloths, baby tees, and even carried inflatable Scooby-Doo toys bearing the name Hypa Dawg.
National Cultural Foundation's chairman, Al Gilkes, described the public's behavior as excellent. The Barbados Tourism Authority has attributed the 12.9 percent increase in tourist arrivals in July to the 2002 Crop Over Festival. It was the biggest increase in 18 months, and the greater percentage came from North America.
By Edwin Ali, Caribbean Correspondent.