Crop Over (formerly called "Harvest Home") is a traditional harvest festival which began in Barbados, having had its early beginnings on the sugar cane plantations during the colonial period. The crop over tradition began in 1688, and featured singing, dancing and accompaniment by bottles filled with water, shak-shak, banjo, triangle, fiddle, guitar, and bones. Other traditions included climbing a greased pole, feasting and drinking competitions. Originally a celebration signaling the end of the yearly sugar cane harvest, it has since evolved into Barbados' biggest national festival similar to Carnival in Brazil and Trinidad. With the harsh effects of World War II on Barbados, the festival was disbanded. It was later revived in 1974 by local stakeholders including Julian Marryshow, Flora Spencer, Emile Straker, and Livvy Burrowes with the Barbados Tourist Board. With the gradual change, the general schematic of Crop Over began to closely mirror the Trinidad Carnival. Beginning in June, Crop Over runs until the first Monday in August when it culminates in the finale, The Grand Kadooment.
For the entire two months life for many islanders is one big party with a major feature of crop over being the calypso competition. Calypso music, originating in Trinidad, uses syncopated rhythm and topical lyrics and gives its exponents a medium in which to satirise local politics and comment on the issues of the day, while taking nothing away from the general bacchanal. Calypso tents, also originating in Trinidad, feature their cadre of calypsonians who perform biting social commentaries on the happenings of the past year, political exposés or rousing exhortations to wuk dah waistline, roll dat bumper and "six-thirty". There are craft markets, food tents and stalls, street parties and cavalcades every week supplemented by daily events at Tim’s on the Highway, the new home of the Barbados Crop Over Festival.
Competition 'tents' ring with the fierce battle of calypsonians for the coveted Calypso Monarch Award. There are also the People's Monarch and Party Monarch competitions. The People's Monarch is a competition in which the public are given groups of songs; each group with 2 songs, and they vote until a winner is chosen. The Party Monarch competition, however, is chosen by a panel of judges and is based on presentation. Therefore, you may have the best song but not be able to make use of stage and props and not be crowned 'Party Monarch King/Queen'. The competition is held on the Ermy Bourne Highway, commonly known as East Coast. The air is redolent with the exotic smells of Barbadian cooking during the Bridgetown Market Street Fair. Rich with the spirit of local culture, the Cohobblopot Festival blends dance and drama and music with the crowning of the King and Queen of costume bands. Every evening the 'Pic-o-de-Crop' Show is performed when finally the King of Calypso is crowned. The climax of the festival is Kadooment Day celebrated with a national holiday when costume bands fill the streets with pulsating Barbadian rhythms and fireworks that ignite the sky.