An outdoor bar and a larger selection of big cart entries should help make Saturday’s Shaftesbury Carnival a fun and memorable event.
Alfred spoke to Co-Chairman Rich Mullins about the programme of events and the driving restrictions.
Rich Mullins will have an early start on Saturday. “I’ll be up and out at 7am,” he said. Shaftesbury Carnival, the culmination of months of fundraising and planning, takes place on 28th September. And Rich has kept a close eye on the forecast.
“Bring coats, wellies and umbrellas,” he says, although the prediction appears to be improving. “It’s changing every few hours. It’s going to be a nice day. Regardless of the weather, we just want to see people throwing pennies and pounds into the collection buckets, cheering and clapping,” he said.
This year’s Carnival beneficiaries are Hope (Shaftesbury and District Carers), Shaftesbury Car Link, Kipling Carnival Club and Shaftesbury District Guides. On Thursday, the Money Mile collection outside Shirley Allum, Shaftesbury Post Office and Tesco generated £103, slightly down on last year. But Rich hopes that the new outdoor bar will boost Carnival coffers.
Outside Bars, run by Shaftesbury resident Chris Young, will be serving drinks in the town centre this year. Chris has strong Shaftesbury Carnival connections. “He comes up in his tractor and he’s there in case of Carnival cart breaks down,” said Rich. “He is going to be pitching up his bar outside the Town Hall this year. Every time you buy a drink, whether it’s a soft drink or an alcoholic drink, from his bar, we are going to be getting some money back from that. It will be good to have the extra facility in the High Street so that people can get a drink from one of the pubs or they can go to the outside bar.”
Rich doesn’t expect objections from licensed premises. “We work closely with all our pubs and we ask every year for sponsorship and prizes. We’re not seeing so much take-up in sponsorship. We know times are really hard but we’re just looking for more support from everybody in the High Street. All the shops are fantastic. The pubs are open and they’re serving drinks. We’re not doing this to take the trade from them. We’re hoping it will add to the atmosphere within the town. Could they do a bit more for us maybe next year? The Mitre and The Grosvenor get very busy on Carnival Day. We want to try and take the burden a little bit and give people the choice.”
From lunchtime, there will be a hog roast outside the Town Hall, too. Carnival Queen Lauren Merrick and the ‘Royal Family’ will lead the children’s carnival into town from St Martin’s Lane from 3pm. The Dorset Youth Marching Band and Shaftesbury Town Silver Band will provide musical accompaniment.
Evening events start at 6.15pm with the spectacular band parade. The illuminated main parade starts its circuit with the classic cars at around 7pm and the larger carts following approximately 15 minutes later from Shaftesbury Fire Station. Pet owners should be aware that a single rocket will be set off to announce the start of the parade.
Spectators will be able to vote for their favourite entry. Shaftesbury Carnival has joined the established CarniApp. If you download it for free you can help choose the winner of ‘The People’s Trophy’ that will be announced on the night. Results are given and trophies are awarded at around 10pm.
Shaftesbury Fire Station are strong supporters of Carnival. Their crew helped decorate the High Street with bunting. The station will be open from 5pm and they encourage families, and anyone interested in joining the fire crew, to call in.
The road closures come into effect for the afternoon procession at 1pm and Coppice Street will be closed at this time. The High Street will be closed at 2.30pm and it will reopen around two hours later.
The High Street will then shut for a second time around 5.30pm and will remain closed until possibly 10pm. A section of Christy’s Lane, the A350, will be closed between the Ivy Cross roundabout and the Tesco roundabout from around 6.45pm until 9pm.
The High Street closure means that bus service 29 will not be using the Town Hall stop from 2.30pm on Saturday.