Tracing the History of the Carnival
Posted on July 3, 2007
What do the Wild West, Dagnall Church extension and a TV presenter have in common? The answer is quite simple - but only if you have been coming to the St Mary's Village Carnival since 1990. For those of you now intrigued, the Wild West was the theme of the carnival in 2001, Pam Rhodes opened the 1998 Carnival and Dagnall Church Extension was one of the good causes supported by the 2005 event.
Thames Valley Police consider the Carnival to be the biggest single annual event that they police, other than the Bucks County Show. But how did four villages manage to create this great family day out - not to mention raise over £103,000 for local good causes since 1995?
The Carnival itself has been taking place for much more than 12 years though. It began as a traditional church fete, first in the Vicarage Garden and then in 1965 it moved to Park Farm in Eaton Bray. By 1988, however, it had outgrown its Park Farm site and was moved to Eaton Bray Recreational Ground. Its stay there was short-lived because in the following year it again transformed itself, under the guidance of Mel Grundy when the decision was taken to alternate between Eaton Bray Recreational Ground and Edlesborough Green. Accordingly the 1989 Carnival was the first to be held in Edlesborough. However, the huge advantage that the open space of Edlesborough Green gave soon became evident and, despite initial intentions, the Carnival has never moved back to Eaton Bray. Anyone coming to the Carnival today will recognise that with the parade, the arena events, dog show, classic car show and range of entertainment, the Carnival has long since ceased to be a village fete.
Since 1990, the Carnival has been opened by a long list of local personalities. These include 4 local councillors, 3 TV or radio presenters, 2 MPs and.....instead of a partridge in a pear tree - you can take your pick from one vicar, a celebrity chef and a disabled athlete! The Carnival has also been opened by a local GP, two local shopkeepers and last year, by Mel Grundy, whose idea it was to develop the 'fete' into today's Carnival. Taking over from Mel as Chairman of the Carnival Committee was Gordon Gray and from 2003 onwards, Peter Bennett.
Over the years, as well as supporting the St Mary's Church fabric fund (which pays for maintenance on the church building in Eaton Bray), the Carnival has raised money for the Florence Nightingale, Iain Rennie and Luton and South Beds Hospices, Keech Cottage, the Silver Star Society at the John Radcliffe Hospital, the Stoke Mandeville Cancer Unit and the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust, all of which have helped local residents. The Carnival has also raised funds for a myriad of local good causes, from playgroups and Scout groups to the Dunstable and District disabled typing club and St John Ambulance.
One feature of the Carnival that has stayed constant thoroughout its history is the great support it receives each year from you - the great public of the four villages!
For each of the last four years, we have raised £10,000 for the good causes. (Note this is the actual amount donated to good causes and not the amount generated in 'turnover'!) The most raised in a single year was £10,700 in 2003 - help us on 7th July 2007 to beat this and get £11,000!
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