The agenda was split into three parts: What should the event be? Should the event stay on the Fuzzy bit, or move to the recreation ground? Open discussion.
Chaired independently by John Towner, it was soon discovered that the people of Verwood do not want to lose their carnival or the procession. Despite the event dwindling in recent years and being criticised heavily on the Verwoodians Facebook group, those in favour of reviving it to ensure the tradition that started in 1929 is not lost, were in the majority. Their eagerness to offer solutions was refreshing and the committee, some of whom have been running the show for over 20 years, seemed to audibly sigh with relief when new members came forward with enthusiasm and in numbers.
New volunteer, Shelley Morris said, “We should have a procession and we should get the schools involved. As a child, I took part in the carnival every year. The tradition should carry on.”
John Towner summed up the first part of the meeting by saying that the people of Verwood “would like to see the carnival continue, with the procession.”
The location was then discussed and it was suggested that because of the decrease in size of the carnival in recent years, a move to the recreation ground might be appropriate. Cllr Simon Gibson offered to be an intermediary between the committee and the town council, “I am willing to work with the carnival committee. I can’t think of anything better than the carnival to use the recreation ground,” he said. “The town council would like to get involved and would listen.” He also offered to help with any road closures that may be required from the county council. “Work out what you want and we can try and make it happen.” In rounding up, Simon said, “You can approach the council for funding and applications are considered every six months.”
The Jubilee Fun Day on the recreation ground was given by some, as an example of a successful event, and this created further ideas. Some residents were in favour of not having a fairground, but instead having bouncy castles and games for families. There were suggestions of fund raising and more volunteers came forward.
During the open discussion, the date of the next carnival was discussed. Reasons for the drop in numbers and lack of interest in recent years were also discussed. There was general agreement by all, including the committee, that possibly they had run the carnival for too long and needed new support, which had not been forthcoming until now, despite requests every year. The chairman Adrian Read, an integral part of the committee for 25 years, said he was standing down.
Although Facebook was criticised for the way it allowed people to ‘slag off’ those who work extremely hard as volunteers for the good of the town, it was accepted that the turnout at the meeting may not have been as significant if this hadn’t happened.
Those at the meeting took the positives and said they wanted to move the carnival on. “The important thing is the new committee,” said Liz Sawyer who has been involved with the carnival for 20 years.
The draft accounts showed a healthy balance of over £14,000, despite the last carnival’s £1,000 loss. There are still donations to be made to good causes before the final accounts could be ratified. It was noted that it costs around £6,000 to put on a carnival in its present location on the Fuzzy Bit, which is donated free of charge every year by the Wareham family. Thanks were given by Adrian Read for their generosity over the years.
The election of the new chairman was postponed until the new committee had formed as it was thought appropriate for it to be carried out during the first committee meeting.
Verwood Carnival is definitely on the cards for next year, at a date to be determined by the new committee.