Photo Gallery: Thousands enjoy Downham Market Water Festival

Dragon boat racing under way at Downham Market Water Festival 2013. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Thousands of people packed the banks of the Relief Channel for Downham Market's seventh water festival.

Originally set up to give families a free day out, the event has grown and grown and now attracts visitors from neighbouring counties, as well as the town itself.

They enjoyed a breezy sunny day which was ideal for picnicking or messing about on the river.

Downham Mayor David Sharman said: 'We don't charge – it's all free. You see all the kids running around enjoying themselves – mum and dad can come with a bottle of pop and a few sandwiches and have a free day out.

'It's a good day for everybody. We get a lot from Suffolk, we get people from Peterborough.

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'Over the seven years we've been doing it, it's definitely got more popular.'

John Doyle, chairman of the event's organising committee, said: 'It's fantastic, it's full up with people and the weather's been kind to us.

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'The idea of the event is to promote the river areas of the town and give the people of the town a free day out. It's our seventh year – it's got bigger and bigger.'

The main attraction was the dragon boat racing, with teams giving it their all on the wide waters of the 'channel.

Dragon boat racing requires a combination of speed and co-ordination, so boats have a drummer to help the paddlers keep time.

In the end, Bri Star 1, made up of workers at the Wissington sugar factory, pipped Herbert's Heroes (aka Marshland-based Herbert Engineering) for first place. George and Dragon (Cornerways Nursery) came third.

Race co-ordinator Merklyn Hauck said: 'It was very close.

'We had two semi finals and in one there were three quarters of a second between the teams.

'It's been a great day, fairly calm and we had some good crews in the final, they were very evenly-matched.'

As well as the racing there

were stalls selling everything from bric-a-brac to doggy beds, while

he food on offer ranged from fish

and chips to falafel.

Alongside the traditional

bouncy slides, there were main ring events including taster fitness sessions, cycling, pilates, zumba and old school aerobics.

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