Jobs: What does it take to organise Cromer Carnival?
- Credit: Colin Finch
Ever wondered how much work goes into organising a town carnival? Cromer Carnival chairman, Tony Shipp, reveals exactly what it takes to put together the fun-filled programme of events, ahead of his town's carnival week which kicks off on Saturday, August 13.
Name: Tony Shipp
Job Title: Cromer Carnival chairman
Describe your job in a nutshell: I work with the carnival committee to organise and ensure the smooth running of Cromer Carnival. The committee is made up of roughly 20 people and each person takes responsibility for a different area of the event, such as the parade or the arena displays, and then I'm left with all the other bits and pieces as well as a list of events to oversee.
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How did you get your job? I started working as a teacher in Leicester, before moving down to Norfolk to teach in Sheringham. Once here I got involved in running the children's beach activities for the carnival. I did this for about 15 years before handing over to Tony West and moving on to different Carnival tasks. I've now been working as chairman for 31 years.
What's the most enjoyable part of your job? Seeing it all come together during Carnival week is the best feeling, you always hope the event is going to be successful but of course there can be hiccups along the way. It's also great to meet so many people, especially those who continue to come back each year. Some of the families who came along to my first carnival and took part in the children's activities are still coming to the carnival today, but now they bring their children and their grandchildren with them.
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What's the most challenging part? Lots of people are involved in the organisation of the carnival and it can be difficult to bring everyone together to hold a meeting and keep everyone happy in the process. You definitely have to be a diplomat, sometimes I feel rather like a politician. You have to keep an even path where everyone feels that what they are doing is of value – and that doesn't just apply to the committee, the community must also feel included because at the end of the day, it's not Tony Shipp's carnival, it's our carnival.
We're very fortunate that the same group of people have wanted to continue helping with the carnival for a long period of time, they know what they're doing and they're very good at it.
Can you tell us something we might not know about your job? A lot of work goes into organising the carnival, it's definitely a full-time job. As soon as one carnival finishes we immediately start planning the next. The working week is long and tiring, and there's always lots of planning and paperwork to be done, but it's all worthwhile.
You also might not know that despite it being such a big part of the event, the parade is something we have no control over. We never know how many people will put in for a float as it's changed so much over time. In the late 1980s almost 200 items were in the parade, whereas today it's more like 70 or 80. We're always glad when people support the parade, because much like the carnival itself it's an amalgamation of all aspects of the local community - pubs, clubs, youth groups, organisations and businesses, it really highlights the strength of Cromer.
Has a particular carnival stood out for you over the years? All the carnivals have started to blur together over the years to be honest, but the first year we had The Red Arrows join us was a highlight, I think it was in the 1980s. It was a landmark event for the carnival and brought lots of people to the town. It's all grown from there really. Some of the fantastic floats and fancy dress costumes the community have made over the years have also been great.
Which events are you most looking forward to at this year's carnival? We've got some exciting new events taking place this year, including a Country Day on Monday that we'll be trying for the first time. It will be interesting to see how that goes. We've also got a new team working on the Fireworks this year, those are on Thursday and I'm very much looking forward to watching the display. Carnival Day itself is also always a highlight and there are going to be lots of great arena events, including The Red Arrows and The Knights of the Damned jousting team. We've also noticed that Tuesday is becoming more popular, so we have a huge programme for that day which will feature The Wildcats who will be putting on an incredible aerobatic display. Many of the events throughout the week are free and there will definitely be something on offer for everyone so make sure you come along, you won't want to miss out on the fun.
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