Oundle Carnivals 2009 to 2013

Carnivals in Oundle returned on Saturday 20th June 2009 after a 30 year absence. The idea of rejuvenating Carnival was first muted by the Association of Trade & Commerce in 2008 and from there a fledgling carnival committee was organised to include a varied section of local residents – we haven’t looked back since.

The modern incarnation of Carnival in Oundle has always has an empahasis on being a fun event for the whole community. The ethos in recent years has been to bring together all of the residents of Oundle and the surrounding villages to enjoy a day that has something for everyone; be it children, families, young adults and not forgetting the not so young whilst plus at the same time raising money for local charities and organisations.

Oundle Carnivals 1973 to 1978

David Wills Recollects The Oundle Carnivals of 30 Years Ago…

“ The idea of Carnival came out of a group of us talking, I just cannot remember all these years later just whose initial idea it was, but it does not matter.

The first Carnival took the group/committee about a year to organise. The thought of a carnival in Oundle was taken up with great excitement by the Towns people and especially by businesses, clubs and organisations.

The first Carnival and the three that followed were financially well supported, all the profits of some two to three thousand pounds were given away to local charities. It is said that more people attended the Carnival each year than the total population of Oundle!

In the months leading up to Carnival day many events were staged including a dance at which the Carnival Queen was chosen and crown placed on her head. These events were organised to raise money to cover the costs of putting on the Carnival, which meant that on the eve of the Carnival all costs could be met, such as insurance, hire of marquees, seats and performers.

On Carnival Day the sun always shone, the day before might have been very very wet. West Street, New Street and Glapthorn Road were all closed while the Carnival procession passed along them, on its way to Home Close on Glapthorn Road.

The procession of Carnival floats reached from Drummingwell Lane to the Oundle Cricket Field at the West end of Milton Road. The parade had at its head a Brass Band and towards the back a Steel Band from Wellingborough. The Steel Band was usually on a lorry and driven by Mr Wagstaff, one time he set off a bit too quickly and the oil drums of the band all went flying! The wonderfully decorated Carnival Floats were on lorries or trailers pulled by farm tractors. The people on the floats were all in costume. There must have been getting on for twenty floats. The Shoe Factory in West Street always put a very good display on their float, there were others from the Girl Guides, Oundle Folk Dance Club and so many many more I cannot remember them. The Carnival Queen either rode on a decorated lorry or on a special float of her own. I do not know what health & safety and political correctness would have to say about it these days.

On the Home Close there was a large arena marked out with wooden posts and ropes. My caravan was always there for the central point for the committee/organisers. Miss Joan Strong of Lime House East Road was a great supporter of the Carnival, she said she was not up to lifting and moving heavy objects but she loved counting money so she spent all day in my caravan receiving and counting money as it came in.

At the Carnivals we had entertainment, one time we had teams of jousters with real armour, real swords and real wooden shields. On that occasion one knight was hit so hard on his helmet that he was concussed and the problem was his helmet could not be removed because of the damage sustained, the knight was taken to Peterborough Hospital with his helmet on!

We also had a Carnival Hovercraft display, they wandered about the Home Close at times in dangerous manner, it was felt that the pilots did not always have full control of their craft. At another Carnival we had a parachute team dropping in. We had to arrange for an alternative landing point in case they were unable to land on the Home Close.

There were of course fancy dress competitions, side shows and stalls selling all manner of items including ice creams, food and drinks. The judges picked at which Carnival Floats in each category were the best and prizes awarded. All this was only achieved by having a hard working, happy and cheerful dedicated team that gave their all.”
David Wills