Thousands line Monmouth streets for carnival

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CARNIVAL fever reached Monmouth yesterday as a colourful parade made its way through the town, before its popular Bed Race made a return to the annual proceedings.

Monmouth Festival, now in its 32nd year, is being held over nine days and will close on Saturday, August 2. Carnival Sunday, attended by 3,000 people last year, and with a similar attendance this time around, saw a parade leave Priory Street at around 2pm with vehicles including a double-decker bus, vintage cars, racing cars, skateboards and bikes.

Severnside Marching Band led the crowds of walking entries, musicians and Morris dancers through Agincourt Square, down Monnow Street to the festival site. Organisers said it is the celebration of the town and its community and a chance to see musicians performing all different genres. Festival organiser Sara Warshawski called it “fantastic”.

Anthea Dewhurst, a committee member of the carnival group of the festival, said: “It was packed the length of the town. We were all really pleased with the response yet again this year. The warm weather obviously helps the atmosphere as well.”

The Spirit of Monmouth – the event’s alternative to a carnival queen – was awarded to eight-year-old Millie Appleton, while a busking competition also took place later in the day.

Before the carnival procession took place, the Bed Race was held for the first time in a few years.

The course, just more than a mile long, began and finished in Agincourt Square and took competitors up Priory Street to the traffic lights, before returning to Agincourt Square and St John’s Street.

Teams of four, plus a passenger, were encouraged to decorate their beds and to race in costumes.

Ewen Brierley, one of the organisers of the race, was glad the event was resurrected and hoped more would participate next year.

He said: “It has been very positive. There used to be one quite a few years ago but it was stopped.

“Three teams took part in the race and all the money raised will be in aid of Prostate Cancer UK. Hopefully, next year it will be a bigger event.”

The race was won by a team from the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers, who fought off competition from a team from local cafe “Pasty Heaven”, and a team from the Monmouth Rotary Club – the race’s chief organisers.

The festival is run entirely by volunteers and costs around £50,000 to organise every year. Money is raised through advertising, sponsorship and the festival’s bucket babes.

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