Teams gearing up to paddle it out at Downham Market Water Festival

The sound of beating drums and thousands of cheering people will encourage energetic teams of paddlers to push for victory at a water festival next weekend.

The annual Downham Market Water Festival will return to the Great Ouse Relief Channel next to the Hythe Bridge from 10am on Sunday, August 14.

The main feature of the occasion is a knockout dragon boat racing competition, featuring crews from clubs, businesses, pubs and sports teams, all hoping to claim victory.

The popular event has gone from strength to strength since it was launched and last year more than 3,000 people enjoyed the sunshine and stalls as 18 teams battled to rule the waves.

The festival is free for spectators, who can enjoy lots of activities on the riverbank, including stalls and a funfair, as well as watching the racing. Ian Pinches, who runs the Railway Arms in Downham Market, has put together two teams for the water festival called Railway Arms and Railway Legs.


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He said: 'Both teams are really looking forward to it because it's a fantastic event and the whole town seems to engage with it.

'All I want my teams to do is have a good time. If they do well then that will be fantastic, but if not, I just hope they enjoy taking part.'

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He added: 'Our teams will be raising money for the RNLI this year after the team we entered last year raised �800 for the charity.'

Teams can be made up of between six and 15 paddlers and a drummer and team entry costs �150.

Each team has three races from which to record their two best times and the top eight teams with the quickest times then battle it out over the 100-metre course for a place in the final.

Margaret Key, who is a member of the festival committee, is looking forward to cheering on the team she has helped put together (called Plumber's Mates) from employees of C&M Servicing, based in the town's Trafalgar Industrial Estate.

She said: 'We have entered a team every year. We came first on our second year of entering and always win a trophy, so we will, as always, be taking it seriously.

'For us, it's a good chance for the guys to get together and have a good day out along with their partners, children and dogs. It's a fantastic event and really does help bring Downham to life and create a great atmosphere in the town.'

For further information contact Downham Market Town Council on 01366 387770.

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