Combe Martin’s spectacular carnival

Joseph Bulmer

COMBE Martin was the centre of attention as thousands turned out to see its spectacular carnival parade make its way down the two-mile main street.

Holidaymakers joined locals both in the parade and in the crowds for a colourful show of innovation and tradition.

Carnival spokesman Rob Schofield summed up the fun-filled night: “The committee was once again gobsmacked at the sheer number and inventiveness of our entries and we have declared this year’s event another brilliant carnival parade. We doff our caps to the many people who took so much time and put in so much effort to create lots of spectacular floats and brilliant walking entries. We must also thank the thousands of people who waited patiently for our parade to pass through the village and cheered so enthusiastically as the floats and walkers passed. Thanks also to our local police who helped us ensure the safety of all participants and spectators.”

The last flight of the Space Shuttle provided an up-to-date theme for the overall champion float The Final Countdown by The Socialites team, entered by Jayne Coombs, Nina Watkins and friends. While the float carried their own version of the shuttle and astronauts a glittering silver and purple group of dancers strutted their stuff to Europe’s hit The Final Countdown.

There was music, too, as The Jungle Book came to life, courtesy of the Smallridge, Ayres and Willis families and friends, who carried off the award for best tableaux.

Yetland Yobs of Berrydown were declared the most comical with their Knight Fever collection of knights of various realms and the Devonshire Dumplings – the Blackmores and friends – were declared the most original with their Rocky Horror entry.

Topping the walkers were Gnomeo and Juliet, a charming and colourful entry featuring Darcey, Rob and Julie Field.

No Combe Martin carnival would be complete without the village’s version of Tom Cobley and his grey mare and they were there again, with riders Gerald Walters, Darren Smallridge, Norman Sanders, John Webber, Graham Rice, Kevin Irwin and Mark Sanders.

Another tradition, dating back several generations, was the bizarre ‘meat chain.’ Young men from the village, topless and smearing with dirt, hauled a huge chain on which hung meat bones and pigs’ heads. No-one could say exactly where the tradition came from, only that it may make reference to the one-time slave trade.

In keeping with the fun atmosphere, local man Adam Niesigh and friends responded with their own vegetarian version. A string of young men pulled a ‘veggie rope’ adorned with cabbages, carrots, swedes and other vegetables.

A collection on the night raised �1,350 towards next year’s carnival week, which costs around �13,000 annually to stage.

This year’s week of events ended on Friday night with the wheelbarrow race and a fireworks spectacular on the beach.

Floats: Most topical -1, The Final Countdown 9The Socialites); 2, Kachow. Original -1, Rocky Horror (Devonshire Dumplings); 2, Ghost Riders (Last; 3, Little Horrors ( John Fowler Holidays). Comical -1, Knight Fever (Yetland Yobs); 2, Smurfs . Prettiest- 1, Rumour Has It; 2, Country garden (Berrynarbor Carnival Club). Best tableaux -1, The Jungle Book (Smallridge, Ayres and Willis families and friends); 2, 101st. Best overall float -1, The Final Countdown; 2, Rocky Horror ; 3, The Jungle Book.

Walkers: Topical -1, Star Wars (Dennis, Chugg and Keating families); 2, Smash (Lesley, Mollie and Sally Ennis); 3, The Motley Crew (Brook family). Original -1, Toy Story Four; 2, Cannon Run (James family and friends); 3,Bedouin Bandits (Sarah and Jan Ralph and Keiron Ralph Younjan). Comical -1, Last Chance Pennies (Crawford and Thompson families); 2, Mr Men and Little Miss (Lewis and Poppy Andrews and Sheila Stanley); 3, Old MacDonald .

Prettiest -1, Old MacDonald (Peter Howard family and friends); 2, Big Bad Wolf (Bacon family, Berrynarbor); 3, Gypsy Wedding ( Hobbits darts team). Overall – 1,Gnomeo and Juliet; 2, Old MacDonald; 3, Gypsy Wedding.