Bridgwater Carnival 2012

Saturday night was carnival night. For the first year, Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival was held on a Saturday, to try to increase the amount of money collected for local charities. For those who don’t know, the carnival procession is held in the evening and is considered to be the largest illuminated carnival in the world and in fact only Notting Hill in London and Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro are probably bigger. The reasons for the procession are two fold, local heritage and culture (not to mention entertainment) and to raise money for charities.

Last year, the carnival was beset by drama and tragedy, with the collapse of the wall by the river and the later serious accident on the M5 near Taunton. Following the accident, carnival-goers held a mass minute’s silence the next day, during the traditional “Black Sunday” celebrations and a significant amount of money was raised by the various clubs. This was recognised by the emergency services during this year’s procession, thanking all the clubs for their help.

The entrants were as spectacular as usual, although I felt that there was a reduction in originality, with a number of entrants having very similar themes to recent years and even some with the exactly the same name during the procession, for example two or three clubs named their entrants “Circus”. One of my favourites was “Be our Guest”, by Wick Carnival Club. It wasn’t as spectacular as some of the big clubs, but they have improved noticeably in the few years I have been watching, plus it was one of the more original ideas. Sometimes I think originality should be rewarded as much as the amount of money that is obviously put into making many of the carts. I also find the entries from Huckyduck and Pentathlon to be quite interesting, but I was slightly disappointed by Huckyduck’s entry this year at the time, although looking at the photos, I like it better. It certainly wasn’t in the same class as their “Spirit of the Blitz” entry a couple of years ago, but was still good.

In what has almost become a tradition in the past decade, Gremlins yet again were the winners, with their entry Revolution. They seem to have a much bigger budget, with so many members, when compared to many other clubs and their cart is always a mass of moving parts.

All in all Bridgwater Carnival 2012 was a success and passed without the major incidents of last year. I think holding it on the Saturday was an improvement, although only the news of how much collected will confrm that.

3 thoughts on “Bridgwater Carnival 2012

  1. Word has that the amount raised was just under £24.000 that was £3.400.00 up on last year. The originality has been raised for the last six months on the “Somerset Carnivals Forum” and at one stage got rather heated, apparently it is down to a lack of money, but some think the traditional ways of theme and build are better, that is going to go on for quite a while.
    Overall I think it was an Excellent Carnival, there were more people there, so perhaps the change to Saturday helped.


    • Thanks for the update. I thought there were more people there too, so it still isn’t much considering how many were there.
      Lack of money is always going to be a problem, especially at the moment. Not being involved, I don’t know how much they re-use old props and models to save some money. I came up with a couple of ideas last year and even did some drawings, but I’m not in contact with any of the clubs to pass them on. There might be a way of modifying old stuff to help too.

  2. Before I go into re-use of old material let me tell you how I know. In 1997 I was commissioned by CBC Television in Canada to make a year long Documentary with a Bridgwater Club so I had to do a lot of background on Bridgwater and Carnival, now working for 12 months with the club I obviously learned a lot, most of the models they make are made from polystyrene so that is very hard to dispose of, what they do is sell them to other clubs or anyone who wants them, except for the Camel on the side of the M5, that has become a landscape feature, other materials they do re-use including light bulbs, if they are making models they have to buy the polystyrene foam and the artists among them shape the foam into what ever it is to be.
    During the year they have many ways of making money, the club I was making the Documentary with their sole income for the club came from Glastonbury festival as they did all the security, another club in Bridgwater collects all the bottles from all the Bridgwater and surrounding area pubs, one club used to do the regular milking of cows for Michael Eavis -Glastonbury festival.
    There are many ways they find to make money for clubs Carnival entry but these are getting few and far between, there are about 6 Carnival Clubs who have not turned out this year due to lack of money and a couple have finished altogether, it is very hard for them.
    As to the Bridgwater Carnival Committee only getting around £24,000 this year in collections, I suppose they should have had more, as they changed the night to Saturday, but, the recession has hit people hard and they don`t or wont give. We have noticed people who want photography are even asking can we do it cheaper as they say they can`t afford to have a lot done. I will do it cheaper as the business is not my main income, but in the end our figures are always up at the end of the year.
    One last, try visiting one of the pubs, if you can, and ask if they do Carnival get them talking, They will tell you most things and then you in with them, time permitting.
    There you are Richard something to read.


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