If there’s any time of year you want to just sit back and gallop through tons of street style photos that bring daunting joy and life inspiration to your heart, that would be none other than Carnival season. Monday, Aug. 7, 2017 kicked off the official Barbados Grand Kadooment road march for the once a year event known as Crop Over: The last official Caribbean island carnival week until New York West Indians play mas on Labor Day weekend. In Barbados, Crop Over is the time of year for mega celebration because it represents the last harvesting of the year’s sugar crop. In the 19th century when plantations assumed control over island life, you can see why this time of year held supreme, but the celebrations still reign on today in an array of modern privilege festival fun.
Crop Over costumes are derived from masquerading, an old African tradition in which individuals used to dress in mask and fully adorn themselves, as a disguise to drive evil spirits away and bring good luck to their village.
“Beauty in Barbados is very different than beauty in America. Within Caribbean and 'carnival' cultures, we are into bold colors and jewel-like ornaments on the face. We love pinks, oranges, yellows, blues, and greens. Anything bright and colorful to accent our costumes. We live for the festivities of carnival. We travel from country to country, Carnival to Carnival just to have another chance to be bold in our carnival spirit. The U.S. is more fashion driven beauty which is equally as beautiful but in my opinion not as equally fun.”
Source: Tiffany Garlick, Crop Over makeup artist
Crop Over formerly known as "Harvest Home," is a direct merging of harvest festivals from West African and English cultures.
During the 18th Century, Barbadian theater mainly influenced the types of costumes worn, but at the turn of the 21st Century, Barbadian Crop Over costumes started to become mainly influenced by popular fashion and fancy dress parties from that of America and Europe.
The earliest mention of of the term “Crop Over” can be dated back to the year 1788 when a manager at Newton Plantation explained that he had arranged a “dinner and sober dance” for the slaves in celebration of "Harvest Time after the Crop.
Soca and Calypso music are the foundation of carnival music. The biggest Soca artists from all over the world come to march on the road with a particular band and perform at the weeks festivities.
Today, Crop Over is aimed at young adult revelers, who often take the road in variations of swimwear adorned with fancy jewels and decorative elements representing the countries they come to masquerade from.
By the 20th Century, the old term “Harvest Time” was replaced by “Crop Over."
The three main aspects of today's celebrations involve local food, music, and dance.
Despite band costumes, individual costume wear is still encouraged and worn on the road.
Most evidence of early Crop Over celebrations come from plantation owners' written notes and diary entries, as well as British travel writers' documents as they moved throughout the region.
Crop Over is one of the most creative times of the year on the island. You see the ultimate beauty and fashion creations.
Traditional dances used to be performed during the folk festival, but were lost through generations and not passed on. Today many of the dances on the road happen to be performed through traditional Caribbean style of dancing and free form fun, but no routines.
Crop Over festivities start as early as May, and end with the huge street party better known as the road march “Kadooment” on the first Monday in August.
Road marching can start as early as 8 a.m., and not end until late in the evening, which is later followed by non-stop all-night parties.
The cart parade and burning of an effigy named Mr. Harding stuffed with cane thrash in some trousers, a coat, and a top hat used to be the huge last procession of Crop Over.
Decorated carts carrying cane and Mr. Harding would make their way to the mill yard, and a laborer would create a beat and song declaring Crop Over in the past.
Mr. Harding symbolized the period between crop over where money and employment was beyond scarce so it was referred to as the hard time.
The “hard time” and the “crop time” were the division of the Barbadian year.
The ceremony where Mr. Harding was burned symbolized hope, that hard times would not be as severe. A tradition that was put to rest in 1979.
Once the sugar cane season declined the Crop Over festival was revived in 1974.
In the 1980s moving into the '90s is when the influence of more risqué’ costumes began to appear.
The drink of choice at Crop Over and during most island carnival festivities is rum punch, as Barbados is the birth place of rum.
On other islands such as Trinidad and Tobago, where carnival is also huge, masquerade was introduced by French settlers as a way to disguise themselves before the Lenten season for a night of celebratory fun.
Barbados Crop Over festivities also include art exhibitions, calypso competitions, as well as junior costume competitions.
You typically see adults on the road for Kadooment because there is a separate Junior Kadooment for kids and teens in July.
With the purchase of a costume to “jump in," you are usually paying for your meals, premium drinks, entertainment, and props for the whole Kadooment day.
African-inspired tribal paint and costumes are also often worn during Crop Over festivities.
The adult Kadooment road march is generally known as the unwinding event.
Early accounts of Crop Over didn’t take place on a large road route but took place in the mill yards of individual and sometime group plantations.
One of the biggest beauty accents you will see during Crop Over is a gem-adorned face.
Crop Over is the biggest street party on the island of Barbados.
Some designated bands still perform full-on routines and performances on the Kadooment road.
Thousands of men and women trek to the small island of Barbados yearly to participate in the week’s Crop Over festivities with Kadooment Monday being the top priority event.
The most colorful and creative costumes are seen at the Junior Kadooment event where the kids go before judges to win titles and prizes.
You tend to see the most beautiful women on the Crop Over road.