Carnival excitement mounts in Barnstaple

THE excitement is mounting for Barnstaple s carnival royals who will lead the town s colourful procession on Saturday. Carnival queen Jerica Torres, 15, from Pilton Community College, and junior queen Katie May Huxtable, 10, from Appledore Primary School,

THE excitement is mounting for Barnstaple's carnival royals who will lead the town's colourful procession on Saturday.

Carnival queen Jerica Torres, 15, from Pilton Community College, and junior queen Katie May Huxtable, 10, from Appledore Primary School, will be joined by carnival princess Nikki Church, 15, from Park School.

All three have been chosen to represent the town by Gazette readers during competitions this summer and last. Each will receive dresses to keep from Joy Street shop Gems, as well as prize money, and hairstyling on the day by High Street hairdressers Tony & Guy.

Jerica and Katie May were princess and junior princess in 2008 and know just what to expect when the procession sets off down the crowd-lined Strand at 6pm on Saturday.

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"The whole day was so much fun - a really magical experience," said Jerica. "I'm really looking forward to being the carnival queen this year."

"It was so much fun last year," added Katie May. "It was the experience of a lifetime - you really do get treated just like a princess."

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Meanwhile, carnival princess Nikki, who gained more than 50 per cent of the votes in a readers' poll earlier this month, said she was looking forward to her first experience as carnival royalty.

"Thank-you to everyone who voted for me in the competition," she said. "I watch the carnival every year and I can't wait to represent my town."

Carnival committee secretary Lesley Windsor said: "It should be a fantastic day. We've got three lovely girls to represent Barnstaple and we're all looking forward to it."

Before the main procession on Saturday, Castle Green will play host to a number of local bands, stalls and attractions including bouncy castles and rides. Judging for the popular Kidz Karnival will take place on the Green from 1.30pm with prizes awarded to the best dressed youngsters. The junior procession will head off around the town at 3pm, led by the Army Cadet Band. Entry forms are still available at Barum House on the Square or can be downloaded at

As in recent years, the main carnival will leave the Civic Centre car park and head down the Strand to the Square, past the Bus Station and Queen Street, down Boutport Street to Mermaid Walk And finish back at the Civic Centre. A firework display at 8.15pm on Saturday will mark the culmination of Barnstaple's four-day long fair celebrations, an ancient custom that will get under way at a traditional proclamation ceremony being held at the Guildhall at 11am today (Wednesday).

The town's right to hold an annual fair beginning on the Wednesday preceding September 20 was fixed by ancient charters, and more recently, by a local Act of 1852. The true origins, however, have been lost in the mists of time, although it is thought that the celebrations are probably as old as town itself.

n For a full report and pictures from the fair proclamation and carnival, see next Wednesday's North Devon Gazette.

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