Wellington Carnival set a very high standard in the traditional opening to the South Somerset Federation of Carnivals’ season last night. The months of work Chairman Dave Rylatt and the Carnival Committee – all of them volunteers – devoted to making the event a huge success were rewarded when huge crowds lined the street from Rockwell Green all along the route through the town centre.
On a perfect, moonlit autumn night the support was impressive and spectators were rewarded with a spectacular show. Wellington Carnival Queen Leona Jolly and her Princesses Ellie Norris and Kaitlyn Rood led the procession on a specially built, tastefully designed float representing Victorian elegance built with support from local businesses.
To illustrate the way the committee has attracted support for the Carnival from beyond the county, Meridian Corps of Drums from Poole and Majorettes from Lyme Regis took part in the procession alongside children and staff from local schools Beech Grove and St John’s. Wellington Silver Band played along the route on a open top bus.
More than 60 entries from organisations, groups, individuals and Carnival Clubs joined the procession, with big floats on display for the first time this season. All were colourful and many were simply awesome, richly deserving the applause they received.
The response of the crowd on the streets should have been cause for satisfaction for the organisers. Dave Rylatt spoke for them when he said, “With so many of our committee being new to carnival I am very proud of what they managed to achieve last night. We used to be the poor relations of our federation; this is not the case any more. The other towns are now looking at us in a very different light. We even had our first “cart” in the procession for the first time in a decade. Despite a quite important rugby match competing for the same audience, our town turned out in record numbers. It is 4.30am now and I am exhausted; our team however is still working, counting, sorting, and tidying up the loose ends.”
Money collected along the route and from the sale of programmes will be distributed to charities, groups and organisations, together with proceeds from the Street Fair and the newly introduced Autumn Festival which featured The Wurzels earlier this month and was a sell-out. Last year the Carnival Committee presented more than £5,000 to various groups. With even greater support from the public this year and recognition that the Carnival is, once again, one of the highlights of the town’s calendar, it could be that even more has been collected.