Traditions: “The Four Pillars of Cup Match”

July 22, 2013

[Written by Vejay Steede] Well into its second century, Bermuda’s annual emancipation celebration has evolved into much more than just a cricket game! More popular than ever, Cup Match in Bermuda is now a fully charged four day fete, with loads to do and see, and plenty high quality revelry to indulge in.

In recent years, the four day weekend that falls closest to August 1st [Emancipation Day], and August 2nd [Somers Day] has become quite a spectacle, with thousands of locals and visitor alike finding a treasure trove of unique, Bermudaful experiences to enjoy and remember.

At the turn of the century, Cup Match was fantastic! I loved going to the game on both days, watching my beloved St. Georges handle the West Enders, and enjoying the family atmosphere that is always present in the public stands at Cup Match. It was a good time in the long tradition of what is essentially, an all-star game [the best on earth I might add]. But then, the 2000s came, and the gears started grinding. There was a series of fabulous concerts on the Wednesday before Cup Match [Cup Match Eve if you will], a small organized gathering at the beach, and a few key post-game celebrations that eventually morphed into what is now called “The Four Pillars of Cup Match”.

Pillar # 1: The Game

Let’s face it, our annual East versus West All-Star extravaganza stands as one of the premiere 2-day sporting events on the planet! It’s a fantastic, drama-filled, enthralling spectacle, and anyone who loves sport, let alone cricket, is absolutely captivated by Cup Match. The Game will always be a pillar of our mid-summer gem, and its popularity is higher than ever these days. With the advent of tiered camps giving the respective Cup Match grounds an old fashioned coliseum feel, and the live broadcast of the entire game, Cup Match is set to explode onto the international scene as an event not to be missed. The game is at the St. Georges Cricket Club ground this year, and is regularly attended by 10,000 plus people over the 2 days.

Pillar # 2: Beach Fest

In 2005, a relatively fledgling group of twenty-somethings decided to take the popular Bermudian tradition of going to the beach on the first day of Cup Match, and make is pop and sizzle! The now mind-bogglingly successful Beach Fest was thusly born. Chewstick Executive Director Gavin “Djata” Smith describes the inspiration behind Beach Fest as, “The recognition that young people had developed a new tradition of going to Horseshoe Bay for Emancipation Day.

It was a social experience that was unique and drew people together. However, there was no structure or organization to it, so there would be big boxes drowning out smaller boxes or discrepancies over who has a spot first, and then there were no real activities to participate in. This we saw as an ideal opportunity to cultivate and grow by adding live music, DJs, structured sports and games, additional amenities, and fun group activities which ultimately became Beach Fest.” The first Beach Fest drew 1500 people to Horseshoe Bay Beach, while the latest edition [2012] enjoyed a patronage of around 9000. I’d say that qualifies Beach Fest as a pillar of Cup Match.

Soca vs Reggae VIP Edition 

Pillar # 3: Soca versus Reggae

This frenetic celebration got off to a humble beginning in 2007, when, at Fort St. Catherine Beach, about 200 die-hard revelers weathered monsoon conditions to enjoy the first of the ongoing series of Bermuda’s Official Cup Match After Party. This event has become a pillar of Cup Match through the sheer energy and excitement of those who have attended, and who will never miss it again! The venue for this night-time celebration of the musical genres that make summer in Bermuda such a wonderful thing changes every year, but it is usually conveniently located at the concert ground closest to the game. This year the Soca versus Reggae crew is returning to the legendary Penno’s Wharf at Tiger Bay, St. Georges [approximately 800 meters East of the Wellington Oval cricket ground], and is boasting an international line-up of massively talented live artists and Deejays. Popular Jamaican artist Demarco will team up with Bermuda’s own King Jyrus Sound and Prezidential Elite to mount astrong challenge for the crown that was wrested from their grip last year. The reigning champion Soca team will be represented by the first family of Soca, none other than husband and wife team BunjiGarlin and Faye Ann Lyons. Each of these artists have been Soca Monarchs in their native Trinidad, and they will be ably supported by local Deejays Rusty G and DJ Chubb.

This event is characterized by extreme energy and decadent revelry, with this year’s edition set to be the best one yet. The score is tied; Soca has 3 wins, and Reggae has 3 wins in the series, and the organizers of Soca versus Reggae have a vision of a day when everyone in Bermuda and beyond has a Cup Match team, and a Cup Match After Party team!

The 2013 edition of Soca versus Reggae is dubbed The V.I.P. Edition because this is the first year that this event is being actively marketed as an upscale, quintessential holiday experience. The vision is to work with the 3 other pillars of Cup Match to present an entire package of high quality entertainment to the world and make Cup Match in Bermuda a global attraction.

Pillar # 4: The Non-Mariner’s Race

The well told story of this event’s development from an inebriated pram race into a veritable water wonderland is the stuff of legend. These days the Sandy’s Boat Club hosted annual Non-Mariner’s Race acts as a massively popular anchor to Bermuda’s favorite four-day weekend. For teems of people, the Sunday after Cup Match was created to be spent at Mangrove Bay in Somerset. Whether you are competing, spectating, or just partying on one of the many party boats, being one of the thousands of attendees at this event is sure to give you wonderful memories for years to come. With an origin that has become a quintessential part of local lore, and the excitement generated by this event growing every year, it’s no doubt that the Non-Mariner’s Race is a decidedly solid Pillar of Cup Match.

With the recent development of Beach Fest and Soca versus Reggae into pillar-worthy events, Bermuda now has a firm foundation from which she can launch an all-out blitz on the international events calendar.

Suffice it to say that we are onto something good here! A 5 day mid-summer event that can compete on the same field as Caribana in Toronto, Cropover in Barbados, and Carnival in St. Vincent; a global attraction that can be marketed to holiday makers from all corners of the planet! We’ve been enjoying Cup Match our entire lives, now we are finally ready to share this magical ritual with the world. There’s certainly no excuse not to!

Gavin Smith echoes the vision when he states, “We aim to put Bermuda on the global stage as a must experience destination and Beach Fest as a must do event.” Indeed all 4 Pillars of Cup Match are destined to become must do events, and not exclusively for Bermudians either.

For more information, and how to get into these events, check out their respective Facebook pages.

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Comments (2)

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  1. ita about time says:

    Three cheers Bermuda! I think were on to something here. The 4 Pillars of Cup Match as talked about in the above article is a success because it was initiated at the grass roots level of the country and all in Bermuda will enjoy their day/s participating in at least one of the activities. This package would be wonderful to sell to tourist. It would take no large plan for locals to buy into it because we are already sold as it is part of our history and culture. What better time for visitors to come and share in the time we set aside to celebrate who we are. Happy Cup Match Bermuda!!!!!

  2. Future says:

    Hmmmm. What about the reason there is the game….?