Alison’s story: Are you having a carnival?

It started with a conversation in the pub. A few of us were sat in the pub out of the football season, chatting about how we could resurrect Berry Brow Carnival.

The first Berry Brow carnival was held in 1964. The aim of the carnival was to bring the youth clubs of Berry Brow together with local residents, for a day of fun, entertainment and sporting events. Lots of people have enjoyed it over the years. However, in the late 1970s a lack of organisers resulted in the carnival being disbanded. 

Games at Berry Brow CarnivalI’m part of a small, but very committed and determined, team of local residents who got together to re-establish the carnival as an annual event in the Berry Brow calendar.

People found some activities to bring to the field on the day – for example, a Harris Hawk and a welly wanging contest – and we began to get our programme together. It poured down in the first years, but people still came.

Rain at Berry Brow Carnival

It has really developed over the years and now we have our own equipment and a network of supportive local organisations and volunteers. There is a committee of six, but local people help out with running the event on the day. We also print around 300 carnival programmes and sell these ahead of carnival and on the day.

Pony riding at Berry Brow CarnivalI’m really proud that we have managed to get the carnival going again, and especially that we’ve managed to keep it going. It’s hard work. I don’t sleep for two weeks beforehand and might have a cry, but as people start to arrive and say, “Oh I haven’t seen you since last year” it reminds you why the carnival matters. I usually get stopped in the street and asked “Are you having a carnival?”, which sadly hasn’t happened this year. 

The committee needs to think about how we can do something this year that fits in with the guidelines. We’ve been doing activity sheets and treasure hunt ideas, taking photographs and asking people to go and find the items. We’re also hoping to do our annual Christmas craft fair to help raise funds. 

Activities at Berry Brow CarnivalThe carnival doesn’t make money, but we do fundraise to help make it happen. Things like hiring toilets for the day are quite expensive. The ‘rolling road’ (which we were able to borrow in recent years) has been really great for improving access up the steep part of the field, which is very helpful when it’s wet. We will need to pay to use that now though. 

I’ve made links with Berry Brow FC and people from the highways team at Kirklees Council and have met many more people through doing this.

We are keeping everything crossed to be able to go ahead with the carnival again in future.

Find out more

Berry Brow Carnival


illustrations from our workshopsThank you to Alison for sharing this story after participating in one of our “How can more people come together to make local places better?” online workshops for Kirklees citizens.

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