Maidstone's River Festival may become a biennial carnival-type event, organisers have said
Maidstone River Festival is dead – long live Maidstone Carnival.
That is the message from organisers of the County Town’s long-running festival, which returned last summer after a break for the Olympics and Jubilee celebrations in 2012.
Despite thousands enjoying the festivities, organisers have decided it is not possible for the town to support an event of its magnitude every summer, as sponsorship has become particularly hard to come by.
But the chairman of the organising committee, Martin Cox, said it didn’t mean an end to summer events in the town.
Mr Cox hopes, with 18 months to prepare, something akin to the old Maidstone Carnival could be revived, starting and finishing at Mote Park.
River Festival chairman Martin Cox in a t-shirt printed specially for the event
He said: “It is my view that the event has outgrown itself in the financial climate that we find ourselves in during this austerity. People are not able to support it as they used to.
“It takes a long time to find sponsorship, and there are so many health and safety issues associated with the river. I think there would be more support if we brought back the Maidstone Carnival, and did it every other year.”
The river festival celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2009. It has been free for those attending each year, and been entirely reliant on sponsorship and volunteers.
Mr Cox, who is also a Lib Dem borough councillor, envisages a revamped carnival starting and ending at Mote Park, with a raft race on the lake, rounded off with a Mardi Gras and a funfair at 6pm. “It is a question of watch this space,” he added.
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