Carnival – The Best Time of the Year

14322646_10153725876690064_3529434382230669721_nWhat is it about carnival? Someone said it’s like a grown up’s Christmas….I can see how that can be said…However, I think it’s a bit more than that…Christmas often boils down to time spent with family…Carnival is time spent with community that is family!

I can’t tell you how many people I heard say, “Carnival is my favourite time of year!”. But why? It’s hard to put into words, but once you experience Pewsey Carnival there is no doubt that you’ll feel the same. The chill of upcoming autumn is in the air. The streets are decorated in lights. You can smell all the food…burgers, curries, chips and more…You can hear the Fair in the distance. Pewsey still has people who travel from all over the country to see carnival just because they grew up here. You’ll always hear at least one person afterwards in the pub that is still a wee bit shocked, confessing that it was their first carnival and they can’t believe it! How they now wish to move to Pewsey…ha!

It’s a time that you can put on a costume and be anyone you want to be. It’s also a time where you can take off your every day mask and be the person you are…

It’s amazing to me as an outsider to watch normally quiet people talking to everyone they see. To walk up time after time and hug and kiss each other. To see the Police Officers walking the street, not looking to intimidate, but just to be there to share a laugh and to offer assistance if need be. I love to watch the children’s faces as they look at all the flashing lights…and to have them come up shyly and ask a question….and then to become bold and ask a thousand more…It magical to watch everyone line the streets…from infants in prams all the way to their great great nans….

To be part of that crowd and to watch the participants all dancing, laughing and smiling is wonderful….we’re usually sat outside the pub and making way for the dozens of small children eager to get their pennies into the buckets of their favourite entry.

As part of the procession it is a totally different experience. The gathering at the Carnival field where the party truly starts….the last minute rushes to finish it off….You can see all of the smiling faces…you can hear the shouts of people calling out, “Well done” and “Over here”. You take a walk around and wonder at the imagination and hard work that everyone has put into their entries for the procession. All for the love of Carnival and community!

Once the procession starts, you can see the wide eyes of the children…the groups of teenagers running about, forgetting to act cool and indifferent…the adults acting as happy and carefree as children…you see the garden parties with dozens sat on garden chairs and having a laugh…you see the lines at the food trucks…you are surrounded by music…and you, yourself, are too happy to worry about tired feet or the stops and gos….you’ll try hard to figure out where that voice from crowd that is calling your name is coming from…you giggle at the children that are so excited that they don’t understand to save their pennies and hand them out one by one so they don’t run out too soon….you’ll make sure you bend down and get on their level so they can easily donate their pence…and then solemnly thank you for being so generous…and you’ll make sure to match their shy smiles as well…you gain a new respect for the older hands that are so eager to give to a great cause as well…

You realise just how wonderful Pewsey Carnival is for the community….you see the hard-working volunteers before and after….and you’re a bit amazed at how happy they are to be working so bloody hard for free….and then you realise that it’s not for free afterall….you see their payment is confidence in knowing they are such an important part…that Carnival wouldn’t exist without them…you see the laughs and the shared pride….it’s a payment that can’t be measured in coin…

You too feel the community pride and you think there is no better place to be in all the world….

Finally, on a more personal level, I often watch me husband and marvel at the man I am married to….we won’t go into all the hours he spend making our entry (if you really want to know about it, just ask him and you’re sure to get plenty of time wasted listening to him moan, but he actually loves it…both the moaning and the making)…what I’m talking about is all the fun he so obviously has being part of the community….the happiness upon his face when he sees old mates that he hadn’t seen in years…after, when the float is tucked safely away, and we make our way to village to the local, then on to the Cooper’s Field for the band…seeing all the people cut loose knowing that their job is well done. That this is the final time to cut loose until next year’s Carnival…I love to see the expressions on everyone’s face as they see someone who they “haven’t seen in ages”. First confusion, then disbelief, then finally, laughter and joy.

I love to hear the stories I’ve never heard before. To meet new people who have played such important parts in the lives of people I love. To hear the stories of Carnivals past and how it’s really much more than just a big party. Carnival means so much to so many simply because it’s where the happier times with family and friends took place. I doubt if there is anyone in all of Pewsey that doesn’t have some wonderful Carnival memory of someone no longer here. I hear me husband, his family and friends reminisce. The stories I hear of people I will sadly never meet…and to to meet the new people who I never knew existed that played such a big part in everyone’s lives…I can only marvel at what it was like to grow up with Carnival. To progress from that shy toddler trying to get someone’s attention to donate their pence…to that awkward teen trying to sneak in some extra fun thinking they are the first to do so…to finally becoming that adult that they are today, understanding that Carnival isn’t just about the party, it’s about the people….the community…

Carnival….Best time of the year….