Devizes mayor rescues axed carnival baby show

This Is Wiltshire: Last year’s winners, Jemma Coates with Fergie, Stephanie Gale with Toby and Hayley-Ann Good with Arthur. Last year’s winners, Jemma Coates with Fergie, Stephanie Gale with Toby and Hayley-Ann Good with Arthur.

Mayor Pete Smith has come to the rescue after Devizes Carnival committee axed the baby show.

Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts (DOCA), which runs the carnival, wrote to baby show organiser Jeanette Von Berg earlier this year to say it no longer wanted the traditional event in its programme.

In the letter James Matcham, chairman of DOCA, says: “It was unanimously agreed that the carnival baby show was no longer an appropriate item for inclusion in our carnival programme. The decision was made because the committee felt that the baby show did not fit with the ethos of the current contemporary carnival programme.

“I hope you will understand that times and fashions change.”

Miss Von Berg resurrected the baby show three years ago in memory of the late Midge Webster, who organised the show for many years. In 2011 there were 25 entries and last year there were 30 entries. The overall winner is judged by the mayor.

Miss Von Berg, a former Devizes Carnival chairman, approached current mayor, Pete Smith, and he agreed to rename it the Mayor’s Baby Show. It will be held on Tuesday, August 27 – during carnival fortnight – in the Cheese Hall from 10am.

Miss Von Berg said: “I was really upset when I got the letter. Then I thought of Midge and thought ‘let’s see if we can get round it’.

“I also asked mums in the town if they wanted a baby show and they did. They said they didn’t agree with the carnival committee’s decision. I am pleased Pete Smith agreed to put his name to it.”

There will be no carnival royalty this year as DOCA decided to end the 80-year-old tradition. The carnival’s street festival, which has performers from all the over world, has expanded into two days and this year DOCA and Wiltshire Museum have been awarded £25,000 for a project on White Horses in which people will make banners and flags for the procession.

Coun Smith said he loved the baby show and wanted it to continue. He said: “It brings the community together and I don’t think we should lose it.

“There are certain people on the carnival committee who want to change things I don’t think for the better.

“That’s why I have stepped in to call it the Mayor’s Baby Show.”

Stephanie Gale, 28, of Market Lavington, whose son Toby was the overall winner of last year’s carnival baby show, said: “It’s a bit of fun and everybody likes looking at pictures of babies.”

Mr Matcham told the Gazette he wished Miss Von Berg success with the baby show.

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