Carnival cancelled due to COVID-19 uncertainty
WINTERBOURNE Down's traditional carnival will not take place in May, as coronavirus forces its cancellation for a second year in a row.
Uncertainty around the nature of COVID-19 restrictions which might be in place during 2021's May Day weekend make it impossible to plan mass events like the traditional parade through the streets.
Carnival committee members were also concerned that people running other attractions and stalls wouldn’t be able to commit to attending the event this far ahead.
However the committee is planning to organise some smaller community events which are more feasible to run during the pandemic, to keep the carnival in the public eye ahead of a hoped-for return in 2022.
Committee chair John Turner said: “Hopefully we’ll be able to run something, even if it’s a socially distanced treasure hunt.
"We’re going to have a meeting in January when we should know a bit more as to how things are going, but it’s going to be a month or even a couple of weeks before the weekend event before we can be confident of what the government position is, and then we can make a decision.
“We don’t want people to forget us. We didn’t have carnival this year. If we don’t have it next year, and do nothing, it could mean extra hard work for 2022.”
The annual carnival is completely run by volunteers, from the organisers, to stewards and stallholders.
It raises funds for specific charities, which are chosen at the start of each year. In 2020, Alzheimer's charity BRACE, foodbank operator the Trussell Trust, mental health charity Mind and SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, have each been given a donation of £400, which is less than usual, so they will remain the charities being supported during 2021.
But John says the event is not just about the fundraising. Holding the carnival is about bringing the community together and building momentum for other local groups.
He said: “There are so many little things going on in Winterbourne Down, and groups that haven’t been able to meet face to face. There’s the Winterbourne Environmental Group who started repair mornings, they did one or two then we were all in lockdown. The Winterbourne Down Horticultural Society – they haven’t been able to do anything this year – their meetings are by internet.
"It’s little things like that which matter.”