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Fears for future of Wincanton's Christmas Extravaganza unless volunteers are found

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

John Smith and Suzy Turner-Wilcockson, organisers of the Wincanton Christmas Extravaganza, fear it could suffer the same fate as the town's carnival unless volunteers come forward to help run it

John Smith and Suzy Turner-Wilcockson, organisers of the Wincanton Christmas Extravaganza, fear it could suffer the same fate as the town's carnival unless volunteers come forward to help run it

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Organisers of Wincanton’s Christmas Extravaganza fear it could suffer the same fate as the town’s carnival – unless new volunteers come forward.

Wincanton last held an illuminated carnival in 2009 and the committee was forced to disband soon after due to a lack of public support.

John Smith and Suzy Turner-Wilcockson, who masterminded December’s festive event in Wincanton, fear it could become the next victim in the town.

Mr Smith, chairman of Wincanton Businesses Together, said: “Last year’s event was certainly the hardest to prepare since it started in 2004.

“In the end, it more or less came down to two people working their socks off, tramping the streets to encourage the traders and desperately searching for advertising revenue to help pay for it.

“We pulled it off by the skin of our teeth, and if it wasn’t for Suzy’s unbounded enthusiasm and energy it would not have happened.

“It has become very clear that it has grown in size and stature – to the point where we must step up a gear if we want to maintain it every year.

“The time and preparation needed to put on this event is simply enormous. To run it again this year, plans would need to be well under way by April.

“Not so long ago Wincanton had a carnival run by a group of committed residents. Sadly that number dwindled until it was impossible for the few remaining to control it.

“It would be a tragedy for the entire town if our Christmas Extravaganza suffered the same fate.”

Last month’s celebration was hailed as one of the best ever, with hundreds of families piling onto the high street to take advantage of a variety of crafts and local foods.

Mr Smith said organising the event was “incredibly rewarding” – and urged anyone interested to get in touch as soon as possible.

He said: “It would be a disaster if nobody cared enough to join us, as it would almost certainly mean the end of the Extravaganza.

“There is a huge satisfaction when you see all your hard work come to fruition.

“It’s amazing to walk the streets and see hordes of people out there having fun, and knowing that you helped to make it happen.”

Hopes to revive the Wincanton carnival were dashed in April 2011 when only five people turned up at a meeting to try and reform an organising committee.

Town councillor Sue Hinks was a member of the Wincanton Carnival Committee – and bemoaned the loss of the dazzling spectacle.

She said: “It was disappointing to lose the carnival – it would have been great to get it up and running again.

“However, if you don’t get the support then you can’t do much about it. Everyone enjoyed it when it was here, so it’s a real shame.”

Anyone interested in offering their support should contact Mr Smith at john@wincantonbusiness.co.uk.

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