November 6, 2013 by We Love Marlborough
So I met a very enthusiastic, happy person today – Maryrose Mantle, chair of Trowbridge Carnival. What is the best thing about carnival? I asked. FUN! she said. I love seeing the faces as the carnival processes. And it’s free. What’s the worst thing? I asked. Nothing, she said. It’s all worth it for the big event. And she’s been involved for fifteen years. I pushed her for at least the most challenging thing about carnival. Getting the paperwork in on time, she said. Apparently, the way around this was to have a database with all the monthly jobs on it (with a hard copy backup!) and allowing a year to organise.
So I met with Maryrose today to talk about getting a Marlborough carnival procession back off the ground.
Here’s her advice.
1. Begin with the police. Talk to them about safety and road closures.
2. Buses. Easier to work around timetables, than for the timetables to change.
3. Wiltshire Council Highways about the road closure. Work with them and the police to put together the right route.
4. Taxi companies – work with them to discourage them from continuing to use the road despite road closures.
5. Blue badge holders – work around these. Obviously we don’t want to get in the way of accessibility but equally we don’t want a blue badge holding car blocking your route.
6. Inform businesses and residents of the road closure all along the route.
7. Ask Marlborough Town Council or Marlborough Area Board for core funding. It is impossible to cover carnival costs from the street collection, even with adding on top fundraising and sponsorship.
8. Start small and build up. Learn from small scale mistakes rather than be defeated by large scale mess ups!
9. Carnival queens. Can be expensive to kit out all ages. Start with 7-11 year olds – the most enthusiastic, easy-going, parental supervised age. It is not a beauty competition. I’m very unsure about carnival queens – I think people still judge on looks. But – let me know your views.
10. Have a budget of £3,000 to put on the procession (including stuff like insurance and professional band fees) then double it to include prize money or appearance fees. Maryrose thinks appearance fees work best because everyone gets something for taking part.
11. Get as much advice as possible. As well as carnival committees, talk to carnival clubs who’ve been there, built the float and are friendly, like a big family. There’s also something at Wiltshire Council called ‘Develop’ which we can approach for free advice and support.
12. Approach schools, churches, Lions, Rotary Club, cadets, scouts/guides – all clubs and organisations to get involved and take part.
13. Approach leading families and businesses to donate a cup. The more awards the better – best float, best walker, best driver, best steward, best dressed, best young person, etc, etc…
14. Employ a core of stewards from properly accredited security, so the procession is not wholly reliant on volunteers, who may or may not turn up, and be the right people for the job. Invite the police to the steward briefing to weed out any ‘known’ people not there for the right reasons…
15. Get enough stewards by reciprocating at other carnivals and events. Put stewards in pairs to protect themselves if anything goes wrong or in case of complaints. Pair up experienced with inexperienced rather than friends.
16. Encourage local businesses to take part with vehicles – and charge a small fee.
17. Invite a fun fair. Ask them to promote the procession on their posters as they can put these up where the carnival cannot. Expect the fair to come back every year – whether you want them or not!
18. Secure a license from Wiltshire Council for street collections.
So this left me with a few big conundrums:-
- What would the best date for the procession?
- What would be the best time of day?
- What would be the best route?
So far we have these requirements:-
- To be after Pewsey Carnival to encourage participants to take their floats out again.
- Probably not during Mop Fair as the High Street is pretty full. And anyway, it’s good to have different things on different weekends.
- Consider a Friday night – the Wessex carnival circuit (Devon / Somerset, places like Bridgewater, Trowbridge, Warminster) have got each Saturday sewn up. It would be fantastic to get some of those carnival club floats along!
- To have an obvious route – but one that has somewhere that floats can park (if we start with floats). Roads would have to be closed for floats to wait, let alone the procession route.
- Schools may get involved in a day time procession but don’t expect them to take part in one at night. Day time processions won’t be illuminated (like Pewsey) and we will probably be lumbered with huge parking charges from Wiltshire Council if not on a Sunday.
Exciting! Let me know your thoughts.
Next up: report from Bridgewater Carnival on Saturday. What a night!
Report by Louisa Davison.