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Wincanton Carnival Returns This Friday

Tuesday 13 October 2015, 16:19
By John Smith

Wincanton Carnival signs near the Morissons roundabout

Since its creation Wincanton Carnival has been a major annual event in the town calendar. On Carnival Day there was always a sense of excitement and expectation. However, because of waning support, the 2009 Carnival was the last one. It was sad that whilst the majority would agree that the carnival was a great event for the community, fewer and fewer people were willing to get involved and make it happen.

After a six year absence the Carnival is back in town. The big night is Friday 16th October 2015 at 7:30pm. Residents will already have seen the road closure signs at main entrances to town. The entrance from Bayford will be closed from 4pm on Carnival day to allow floats to park up and prepare for the 7:30pm start. The other entrances to town from the Morrison’s roundabout, West Hill, and North Street, will be closed from 7pm. All roads will re-open from 10pm. The floats will park up for the night on Bennett's Field Trading Estate, before making the short journey to Castle Cary for their carnival on Saturday 17th October.

For this first outing there will be in the region of 40 entries including a healthy mixture of full size illuminated floats and individual walking entries including Majorettes and the Wessex Band. It will be a right royal occasion with Carnival Queen Emily Watson accompanied by Carnival Princesses Skye Chiddy, Courtney Hardstaff and Holly Grey leading the procession from Bayford Hill, down through High Street, South Street, and Southgate Road to the overnight parking area in Bennett's Field Trading Estate. They will be joined in the parade by Wessex Carnival Queen Beth Crockford.

Wincanton Carnival royaltyDuring the evening carnival stewards will walk the course rattling buckets and appealing for donations from the crowd. Please give generously as all donations collected will be split 50/50 between the Carnival, and local charities/organisations. Local organisations can apply for funds from the carnival proceeds, but they should be willing to join the stewards to help collect funds on the night.

The resurrection of the town carnival was the inspiration of local resident Jazmine Radford, who started building a team around 12 months ago. A working party was formed to plan and execute the event, with Jazmine as Chairperson. At the ripe old age of 24 she has become the youngest ever Carnival Chair in Somerset and Dorset.

In due course a presentation was made to the Town Council who unanimously supported the project giving a donation towards the funding target of £6,000 needed to cover carnival costs. Historically carnival clubs used to pay a fee to enter their floats into a carnival parades, but times have changed, and carnival committees have to pay the clubs an appearance fee for their floats to take part. That means that Wincanton Carnival has to pay each float an appearance fee of £120. They also have to pay fees for road closure applications, event insurance, signage, stewarding etc., etc. In short carnivals are costly ventures.

For carnival clubs to create and build a float to take part in carnivals is also a very expensive venture. The average float on the Wessex Circuit will cost the respective clubs in the region of £25,000 to £30,000 every year. Floats by their very nature are extremely large, and even travelling from venue to venue involves careful planning and adherence to strict regulations.

Back in August 1985 Castle Cary solicitor Gordon Stockman set up the original Wessex Carnival Circuit with five events in Frome, Shepton Mallet, Castle Cary, Wincanton, and Mere. Over the next five years the group grew to include, Gillingham, Warminster, Trowbridge, Sturminster Newton, and Salisbury.

Wincanton Carnival 2015 route

In the South West there are three official carnival circuits including Wessex, South Somerset Federation, and Somerset County. The Wessex Circuit is the largest Carnival Circuit, but the biggest carnival attracting the best entries from all three circuits is the Bridgwater Carnival. It's interesting to note that even in a large town like Yeovil the carnival folded.

Having been one of the original carnivals in the Wessex circuit, Jazmine and the team were delighted by the encouragement and help given by the Wessex team to help them get re-established. The original intention was to monitor the 2015 event for acceptance into the circuit from 2016, but it was subsequently decided to admit Wincanton Carnival for this current inaugural 2015 event. Wincanton carnival is off to a great start.

Let’s hope that this Wincanton Carnival is first of many more to come.


Posts: 1
Carnival Day
Reply #1 on : Fri October 16, 2015, 08:46:06
Don't forget that today is Carnival Day and that the Town Centre including High Street, and South Street will be closed to all traffic from 7pm till 10pm.

Because the Carnival floats and entrants will be gathering on Bayford Hill, access to and from Bayford will be closed from 4pm through to 10pm.

Please spread the word and encourage everyone to adhere to the road closure and any diversion signs. There is also a race meeting at Wincanton Racecourse today, so heavy traffic is to be expected.

I hope that everyone will come out and support the new Carnival and help make it a permanent annual feature in the town calendar.
Posts: 1
Wincanton Carnival
Reply #2 on : Tue October 20, 2015, 21:39:40
Fantastic effort by all concerned. It is great to have the Carnival back in Wincanton.

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