Bloxwich Carnival Royalty 2011. Enthroned is Bloxwich Carnival Queen 2011 Abigail Nicholls, supported by (front left) 2011 Rosebud Phoebe Willetts, (front right) 2011 Princess Lucy Kirk and (rear standing) 2010 Queen Jessica Jones (Pix by Stuart Williams).
Dateline: 7 August 2011
Yesterday, Saturday 6 August, saw the latest instalment of a Bloxwich tradition dating back to 1919.
Bloxwich Carnival has its origins in the peace celebrations which followed the Great War, when the community came together to celebrate the return of local men from the trenches, commemorate those tragically lost in conflict, support their families and raise funds in aid of local hospitals.
Over subsequent decades, the tradition went from strength to strength, and became a firm local favourite, supporting both charitable causes and local senior citizens, both picking up the local Victorian tradition of organising a free annual party for the ‘Old Folks’ of the village and maintaining a close association with Pat Collins’ Fun Fair which has itself maintained the old tradition of Bloxwich Wakes for many years.
Senior Citizens Party at Bloxwich Baths on 14 July 2011
Today, the village’s premier community event, which was revived in 2000 by a new Carnival Committee after a gap of fifteen years since the last such celebration, is still the largest gathering of local people each year, holding the Senior Citizens’ Party in July and bringing thousands together on Carnival Day, a Saturday in early August.
Carnival Royalty with the Mayor and Mayoress, Terry Bate and David Winnick at Benton's Sons of Rest
This year, as before, Bloxwich Carnival took place at the King George V Playing Fields off Stafford Road, Bloxwich.
As is traditional, the event began 12.30pm after a procession on foot into the park from Benton’s Sons of Rest in Bealey’s Lane, with the formal opening of Bloxwich Carnival by the Mayor of Walsall Councillor Garry Perry, who welcomed one and all from the vantage point of Walsall Council’s MOVE lorry, in use at carnival for the first time.
The Mayor of Walsall, Cllr Garry Perry, formally opens Bloxwich Carnival
The sun then broke through the looming clouds in timely fashion, marking the moment that the Mayor joined local dignitaries Mr. David Winnick, MP for Walsall North, and Councillor Anthony Harris (of Pat Collins Fun Fair fame) in crowning the new Carnival Queen, Abigail Nicholls, Princess Lucy Kirk and Rosebud Phoebe Willetts.
After the coronation, L to R: 2011 Princess Lucy Kirk, Queen Abigail Nicholls and Rosebud Phoebe Willetts
This was followed by the awarding of medals to fourteen young Carnival Ambassadors, each having been nominated for their outstanding qualities by local primary schools. They were:
Young Bloxwich Carnival Ambassadors for 2011 await their medals (See Flickr link below for individual pictures)
Following the presentations, 2010 Bloxwich Carnival Queen Jessica Jones gave a speech about her time as queen. Jessica, always enthusiastic and ready to help, has had a fantastic year as queen and has done an amazing amount of work in promoting the carnival and Bloxwich during that time.
Terry Bate presents Jessica Jones with a bouquet
Last but not least, Master of Ceremonies Terry Bate, Chairman of Bloxwich Carnival Committee, warmly thanked 2010 Bloxwich Carnival Queen Jessica Jones for all her enthusiasm and support both for the carnival and the village, and presented bouquets of flowers to her and to the Mayoress.
He then received a cheque from Roy Peace, Chair of the Bloxwich Committee of Walsall Housing Group, for a donation of £4,000 in support of Bloxwich Carnival.
Roy Peace (right) Chair of the Bloxwich Committee of Walsall Housing Group presents a cheque for £4,000 in support of Bloxwich Carnival to Bloxwich Carnival Chairman Terry Bate
The rest of the event then got under way, with more than forty stalls and displays plus rides, seaside donkeys, and amazing arena entertainment ensuing for the rest of the afternoon, supported by the traditional presence of the great Pat Collins Fun Fair.
Amongst the many stalls and tents were some exceptional displays, including one from the Electric Palace, a youth centre run by Bloxwich Community Partnership, who lined up on the red carpet for the premier of their Oscar-winning display!
The Electric Palace movie stars and time-travellers - L to R: Ben Lewis, Dan Garbett, Dina Barnett (running the show), Destiny Jones, Kirsty and Natasha Moore, Alex Knowles, Joshua Baggott (The Doctor), Sue Harvey and Amy Oram.
It's tongues-out and fun in the sun for everyone as Shelagh Parker of the Retired Greyhound Trust introduces carnival-goers Kerren Saunders and her young daughter Kiah Saunders-Tottey to her retired greyhound Hazel!
The Mayor of Walsall Councillor Garry Perry takes up the 'throw the ball in the bucket' challenge at the Walsall District & Wednesbury SSAFA Forces Help tent
First up in the arena at 1pm with eye-popping aerial antics and gymnastics were the breathtaking turns from M.A.D, the world's largest (and best!) professional mountain bike stunt/trials display team. Presented by Giles Wolfe, himself a former professional mountain biker, team members Nick Manning and Scott Wilson had the audience gasping at their daring leaps and spins over and above a special stunt frame, some ‘lucky’ volunteers from the crowd – and a Landrover Discovery!
Nick Manning (left) and Scott Wilson perform M.A.D. stunts on their special mountain bikes!
Then at 1.30pm legendary strongman and ‘headbalancer’ John Evans, now famous for his spectacular stunts first showcased to the nation during the TV series ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, proceeded to draw ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ from the enthralled crowd at the other side of the arena by balancing huge objects on his head an walking freely about with them thereon.
Strongman John Evans balances a world record 10 car tyres before also succeeding with a large pedal car!
These included 24 massive buckets, a pedal car, and finally a world-record making ten car tyres balanced one on top of the other, all without dropping, falling over, or – thankfully – crushing Mr Evans!
The two spectacular acts alternated through the rest of the afternoon until the arena programme concluded with the last act at 4pm.
Chaos Queens Abigail Nicholls, Jessica Jones, Phoebe Willetts and Lucy Kirk reach for the skies courtesy of Pat Collins' terrifying Chaos ride!
Throughout the day, of course, the legendary Pat Collins Fun Fair, traditionally associated with Bloxwich Carnival since the great days of the Wakes, also kept things humming and provided fun and fear for all who dared! And, courtesy of Anthony Harris, the young ladies of Bloxwich Carnival Royalty also had a ticket to ride - everything!
Scream Queens Jessica Jones, Lucy Kirk and Abigail Nicholls riding high on Pat Collins' 'Scream'!
Bloxwich Carnival, which is organised by the entirely voluntary Carnival Committee, a non-profit organisation drawn from members of the local community, traditionally attracts thousands of people and the organisers say it is one of the biggest in the West Midlands; judging by the huge numbers of people enjoying both the village’s traditional annual celebrations and the unexpected bonus of several hours of warm sunshine beaming down on Bloxwich, we can well believe it!
John Millard, Walsall Council senior park ranger, who together with his exceptional team has supported Bloxwich Carnival for many years now, by running and managing the venue, providing full support including health and safety, and helping in many other ways, said before the event “The carnival is a fantastic community event both for Bloxwich and for residents who live in other parts of the borough and is a great day out for all the family.” And who could argue with that?
Next year is the UK’s Olympics year of course, and not to rest on their laurels, Bloxwich Carnival Committee are already thinking of something suitably spectacular for the 2012 carnival. Watch this space – you’ll hear it here first!
For hundreds more photographs of Bloxwich Carnival, check out our Flickr album via this link: