By Harry Mottram: The annual Axbridge Blackberry Carnival was a huge success on Saturday 23rd September, 2023, and was blessed with fine weather. Large crowds lined the route and with plenty of entries the procession passed through the Square packed as usual with the rides of the fun fair.

The organisers said: “Thank you to everyone who took part and to those who volunteered to marshal the route – with who we could not hold the carnival. Once again Axbridge came good to make the carnival a wonderful family event. And everyone who put an entry in is a winner in our eyes. The creativity and originality of the entries never ceases to amaze us – so thankyou to everyone involved and to those who spend so much time making the costumes and dressing the floats.

“The wonderful Carnival Queen and Princesses (and their parents), the Town Crier and the Mayors who very kindly open the carnival for us. Thanks to the amazing people in the community who help us with moving planters and street furniture, putting out road signs and traffic cones and clearing the decks for the big day. Plus, the wonderful people who put on their high vis to become stewards on the day to help us to keep everyone safe and photographer Toby. And the brilliant first aiders, the traffic marshals, the clean-up crew who put everything back to how it was. Thanks to the local council and traffic management for keeping us on track health and safety wise – the Post office staff who help us hand out entry forms and risk assessments, plus the local pubs, cafes and Coop for keeping us fed and watered.

“Also thanks to the Judges who give up their time on the day, and Ben who provides us with the PA, Harry for providing us with lots of publicity, Vick’s Mum for doing the posies, and Toby and Stellan for being our official photographers for the day. And not forgetting the lovely fairground team who come to Axbridge every year to add to the fun and excitement of Carnival Day.

“Our Chairman Robin Mace who oversees everything and keeps us on the straight and narrow. Mel and Sophie who smash the procession organisation, Vicky who smashes the town hall proceedings and Di Owen who holds us all together. And a very special mention to our newest committee member who only joined us about three months ago but has had no choice but to hit the ground running and has got us all organised and on track – not always an easy task and we couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you Karen!”

A funding appeal has been launched to raise cash to pay for next year’s carnival – to donate go to Just Giving and search for Axbridge Carnival. With increased paperwork and costs from the County Council it is a huge task for the small group of people on the carnival committee to ensure the event continues with a target of £5,000.

The procession was led by the civic party known as ‘the chain gang’ with the Axbridge Mayor Councillor Frankie Mitton, the town councillors, the mace bearer, town crier Nigel Scottand, the bailiff plus mayors and civic leaders across the county who accompanied them.

The results for Axbridge Blackberry Carnival 2023 are: Overall Winner, Barbie and Ken; Wackiest Entry, Barbie and Ken; Best Entry on Wheels, Thunderbird; Walking Juniors, 1st place – Rhythm Fever, 2nd place – Saxons Supporters Club; Open Walking, 1st place – Surfers against Sewage, 2nd place – The Government Inspector, 3rd place – Frolicking Fairies; Junior Trailers, 1st place – Hakuna Matata, 2nd place – Buzzing Brownies; Open Trailed, 1st Axbridge Harvest Home; Best Dressed Driver, Liz Scott.

The Castle Cary Majorettes known as the Cygnets also provided a spectacular aspect to the procession, plus there were some colourful entries that raised a smile including George Tyte’s tractor pulling the Harvest Home float, the Carnival Queen and her princesses, the Only Fools and Horses entry with a three-wheeler, several classic cars and motorcycles, chopper 70s cycles and of course the many walking entries including the Adams Family, witches and Laurel and Hardy – featuring the former mayor Edith Channon.

The Axbridge Blackberry Carnival has a long history and has seen a revival in recent years with more entries, large crowds and rain-free passes from the weather gods. There is plenty more on their Facebook site – but they always need more help in organising and of course fundraising. Without the work of the likes of Bev Davies in the past ant Di Owen, Andy Corp, the Caple family, Cath Frith the chairman Robin Mace, and many more – it would not happen – so do lend a hand – or at least visit the Just Giving site and chip in a few quid.

Next year’s carnival is slated for Saturday 21st September, 2024, although the date is to be confirmed.

Axbridge Review is edited by Harry Mottram and is published for the interest of himself and fellow residents.

Harry is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc

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