Shaftesbury’s shop fronts are filled with vibrant Venetian masks, colourful streamers and ‘Day of the Dead’ skulls this week as town centre businesses embrace the Shaftesbury Carnival window dressing competition.
The theme, Carnivals of the World, was devised by Chamber Secretary Virginia Edwyn Jones. Chamber of Commerce Chairman, David Perry, is pleased at the level of participation. “It’s just a great way to get people looking in the windows and brightening the town up. I’m thrilled that we had 28 window entries. And almost 60 businesses entered the Odd One Out competition.”
The window judges were Reverend Doctor Helen Dawes, artist Zara McQueen and Civic Society Chairman and Twinning Association Committee Secretary Roy Mitchell. The judging trio toured the town and inspected the displays on Thursday morning.
Helen believes that a competition like this brings out the best in our town. “One of the things that I love about Shaftesbury is the strength of community. It’s just brilliant. An event like this is just one kind of marker of how that works. People make that extra bit of effort, so that we can all enjoy ourselves together. And that’s the sort of thing that makes Shaftesbury the place it is.”
There were two prizes, both funded by the Chamber – a voucher for £100 to spend at the Grosvenor Arms was given to the Best Window and an additional £50 prize was offered for the business that made the Best Effort in their display.
Helen took on Len Goodman’s ‘Strictly’ role, acting as Head Judge. “I am not sure that I can live up to Len’s example, but it has been a really fun morning looking at the windows around Shaftesbury,” said Helen.
So, how did the judges decide which windows were the best? “It was great having such brilliant fellow judges to work with. They brought a different perspective. It was good that we had such a clear theme. We were able to look at different windows and think about the effort that had gone in and the creativity and see how closely it matched the theme that they had been given.”
After seeing all of the windows, the judges retired to Gusto café to deliberate. “We were very close on our scoring over the different windows. A bit of discussion was needed to get that final decision and we’re really happy with the conclusion that we came to. The overall winner is ‘All Ewe Knit Is Love’, which we thought had a fabulous window that really showed a lot of effort and creativity and a real engagement with the theme,” said Helen, adding, “It is an explosion of colour and well worth looking at. They had knitted, or possibly crocheted, the skull. It was amazing.”
David Perry delivered the £100 voucher and winner’s certificate to Susanna Harvey. “My display is based on the Day of the Dead Carnival from Mexico. I have winged hearts with a sugar skull on the front. I have a large sugar skull cushion all made from hexagon granny squares, and lots and lots of pompoms, because they’re essential in any carnival. And I have lots and lots of bright colours.”
Susanna created the design especially for the competition. “It took me a couple of weeks. I just love bright, colourful things. I thoroughly enjoyed making it.” She says that she ended up burning the midnight oil. “Several nights I was up until three or four o’clock in the morning.” Susanna wants to treat her husband at the Grosvenor Arms. “He’s been very patient with my late nights,” she laughed.
The Best Effort award went to Gillyard Scarth Estate Agents. “You might think that an Estate Agent window is difficult to decorate on a carnival theme,” said Helen. “They had an amazing display of their personal collection of Barbie dolls in carnival costumes. They also framed houses on display to look like carnival stalls. On top of that, Barbie’s house was for sale as a carnival special. We really like the way they put so much thought and humour into their window.”
Sarah Weech came up with the Gillyard Scarth design. “The charity shop uses mannequins and I thought I’d use Barbies instead,” said Sarah. She says they wanted to enter the window competition because Estate Agents often ‘don’t do this sort of thing.’
“It made it more interesting,” said Sarah. “It’s also for the kids. They love the little dolls.” So what kind of response has she had? “A few people have looked at it strangely but many people have also said it’s good. That’s nice,” Sarah said. Sarah will spend the £50 voucher for the Grosvenor Arms on lunch.
The judges awarded Highly Commended awards to Kit and Kaboodle and Naomi House Charity Shop.