From the first time Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, John King saw the space now known as the National Botanical Gardens, he was sold on its potential to host the country’s largest events.
On Sunday, his vision was put to the test and received the ‘thumbs up’ from numerous Barbadians, despite concerns about impending bad weather.
The clouds hovered around the Stadium Road, St Michael venue from time to time, but eventually gave way to brilliant sun casting its warmth on thousands of patrons eager to enjoy the Soca Monarch Competition.
“We are here taking in some sun, whereas the Party Monarch [at Bushy Park] used to be later in the evening. I like it once the rain doesn’t fall,” reported Rashida Payne, who was enjoying the party early with her family.
Ryan, a returning national who was visiting from New York for the first time since 2015 said he was “really impressed”.
“This place is beautiful and I know there was a lot of talk about the mud and so on but trust me, I expect an epic celebration,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Janet Barrow an elderly patron said she was hoping for a covered area with seating and said she longed for an eventual return to the East Coast Road. Her daughter, Sylvia White was impressed with the transformation.
“I like the venue and what they’ve transformed it into. I’ve been to East Coast and I’ve been to Bushy Park but I’m comfortable with here. I was hoping there would be no rain, which I think, would have done some injustice, but other than that I’m having a good time and I love it,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister John King assured Barbados TODAY that after conducting a thorough postmortem of the event with his team, an in-depth analysis would be given. Nevertheless, he is satisfied with the preliminary reports.
“I was pretty comfortable and satisfied that all the things you can expect from going into a new venue. In the absence of a blueprint as to how it would work, I thought the NCF did very well and I say kudos to them and all the other partners who worked with them including the NCC and the [MTW] Ministry of Transport and Works. It went off incident-free and people had a good time.
“There were very positive reports from patrons as I walked through the crowd. So all in all they should give themselves a pat on the back. I know there are a number of things that we can do better, but you can only do that after you’ve done your reviews,” said Minister King.