As a kid, there were always two days I looked forward to with so much anticipation I could have burst . No prizes for guessing one was Christmas. The other was Carnival Day. The Wednesday of every Fowey Regatta week was the annual highlight of my childhood schedule.
And why? Well, I loved that Fowey was so full of people. And everyone so happy! Then as teenager, as I began to cut my teeth in the world of work by waitressing in various restaurants, after we’d all finished our shifts, everyone – staff, locals and visitors – would spill out onto the Town Quay, clutching their warm cans of cider. Those parties were in my eyes, legendary.
Now of course I realise I was just hanging around the Quay with some drunk people. I was easily pleased back then.
So, if you’re visiting Fowey, here’s how we would suggest you enjoy Wednesday. Begin with a stroll through the town to eye up the Traders Carnival. Most of the shops, pubs and restaurants will be dressed up, including ours! As what is traditionally a closely guarded secret . This year the theme is 50 years of music so who knows what is going on in our feverish imagination?
And then in the evening there’s the Carnival itself. Everyone is free to join in – locals, visitors, young, old. You just need to be up at Squires Field by 6.15pm for the judging. From there it proceeds slowly – very slowly! – through the town, taking in Green Lanes, Place Road (a slight diversion this year as the floats will come down the main hill owing to the Place Road being closed) and the Esplanade before hitting Fore Street, winding its way all through town to Caffa Mill.
We’d always stand outside my mum’s house on Daglands Road, glass of wine in hand, listening intently for the distant drum of the Fowey Town Band – who, after heralding the approaching Carnival would nip to the Fowey Hotel for a drink, the first of their many watering hole stops. Celebrating 50 years since they were set up, if you’ve never seen the Fowey Town Band, before, you can’t miss them!
A brass band follows, always playing the Flora Dance. Next, the Fowey Carnival Queen would lead the procession to be the first of many visiting fairy kings and queens from magical mystical far flung places like St Dennis, Nanpean, and Stenalees . My little sister was a fairy queen attendant. Twice. That’s an awful a lot of waving and smiling.
What follows then is anyone’s guess. Walking groups, individuals, man, woman, beast and some babies, all with their own take on Carnival. It’s hard to describe, so I won’t here – just make sure you don’t miss it!
One year we entered as ‘Escape from the Aquarium’. I went as a plaice. Yes, as a flat fish. Ah the dizzy heights of glamour I reached that night. I’m not sure where we came in the judging… oh hang on. We won first prize. First plaice, you might say.
This year we have another plan for Carnival – obviously its a closely guarded secret. And if you decide entering Carnival isn’t for you, just join the rest of onlookers in standing, drinking and pointing.
Because you can always enter next year!