Saturday 16 June saw the the latest instalment of a fine old Bloxwich tradition dating back to 1919 – Bloxwich Carnival – this year brought forward from the traditional August date to link up with national and local celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
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, and with the support of other local organisations, notably the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix, is still the largest gathering of local people each year, usually holding a free Senior Citizens’ Party in July and bringing thousands together on Carnival Day.
And despite the poor weather on Saturday, which was also Queen Elizabeth’s official birthday, Bloxwich people didn’t let a little thing like howling wind and rain hold more than 2,000 of them back from having a good time celebrating in honour of Her Majesty, who would no doubt have sympathised with carnival-goers after that rather soggy Royal Pageant on the River Thames earlier this month!
This year, as before, Bloxwich Carnival took place at the King George V Playing Fields off Stafford Road, Bloxwich. And a great event fit for a Queen was planned – or in this case, several queens, as the right Royal connection of the show was enhanced by inviting past Bloxwich Carnival Queens to join in the Jubilee fun!
These days the carnival no longer has its traditional procession around the streets of Bloxwich, largely thanks to the introduction of excessive charges for road closures and ‘health and safety’ – but a brilliant new idea from the Committee for this year’s event was to start off with a ‘mini-procession’ from All Saints Church to the Playing Fields, comprising a wonderful white coach drawn by a pair of Shire Horses and containing the new Bloxwich Carnival Queen, Princess and Rosebud plus last year’s queen, preceded by the Carnival Committee Chairman in his Land Rover and followed by The Mayor and Mayoress of Walsall in the mayoral Jaguar.
The carnival itself, which is supported by Walsall Council, began at 12 noon, this year with free admission to all-comers in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and was formally opened by the Mayor Cllr Dennis Anson at 12.30pm. Introduced by Carnival Committee Chairman Mr Terry Bate, the Mayor welcomed one and all from the vantage point of Walsall Council’s MOVE truck stage.
Next, Linda Lister, Estates Service Manager of Walsall Housing Group, formally presented Bloxwich Carnival Committee Chairman Terry Bate with a cheque for £4,000 in support of the 2012 carnival.
The Mayor was then joined by the Mayoress Mrs Kate Anson and Mr. David Winnick, MP for Walsall North in crowning the new Carnival Queen, Alice Jones, Princess Amelia Ellis and Rosebud Megan Leigh Small. All received bouquets of flowers, and in addition 2011 Queen Abigail Nicholls also received a cheque for £100 in recognition of all her hard work for Bloxwich in the past year.
This was followed by the awarding of medals to eleven young Carnival Ambassadors, each having been nominated for their outstanding qualities by local primary schools. They were:
Sophie Guy of Abbey Primary School, Zayn Adshead and McKenzie Lowndes of Bloxwich CE Primary School, Jack Griffiths and Lucy Denny of Christ Church CE Primary School, Demi Leigh Butler and Reece Arnold of Blakenall Heath Junior School, Owen Hansford and Ellie-Mai Stanton of Green Rockk Primary School, Libby Lewis of Mossley Primary School and Marybeth Williams of St Peter’s RC Primary School. Harrison Fletcher of Mossley Primary School was unable to attend.
Following the crownings and awards, some special presentations of posies to past Bloxwich Carnival Queens were also made, including to Jessica Jones (2010), Tammy Scale (2003), Samantha Footman (2008), and Sally Kirk (2009).
The rest of the event then got under way, with many stalls (though fewer than usual due to the weather) and displays plus rides, seaside donkeys, and amazing arena entertainment (without the advertised Zumba dancers, who did not go on due to the weather) ensuing for the rest of the afternoon, supported by the traditional presence of the great Pat Collins Fun Fair, an association dating back to the old Bloxwich Wakes.
The two spectacular arena acts alternated through the rest of the afternoon: the amazing UK FMX freestyle motorcycle stunt team, and the weird, wacky and wonderful Bruce Airhead thrilled, amazed and amused the crowds until the arena programme concluded, though sadly by 3.30pm the weather had worsened such that it was no longer possible to continue with UK FMX’s motorcycle stunts for safety reasons.
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, including the beautiful and fearless Bloxwich Carnival Royalty!
There is no doubt that Bloxwich Carnival, whatever the weather, is a fantastic community event both for Bloxwich and for residents who live in other parts of the borough and is a grand tradition and a great day out for all the family. The Committee sends thanks to all who turned out to support the event, and stayed on for some serious fun!
Hopefully next year the sun will shine – and the Queen won’t have to wear wellies!
For over 150 additional photographs of Bloxwich Carnival, check out our Flickr album via this link: