Event begins to rival Saturday's carnival procession for popularity
More than 200 decorated wheelbarrows, each with a fancy dress team of as many as 21 and many blaring out music and featuring disco lights, were watched by several thousand people in Pewsey last night.
The annual Wheelbarrow Race, renamed from the former Wheelbeero Race as the organisers distance themselves from the association with alcohol, retained its traditional format.
Each of the record entry of more than 230 teams had to stop at ten pubs and clubs along the two-mile route where one member had to quaff a pint of beer or a soft drink.
But whatever the name it was the same magnificent, madcap scene of more than 200 different things you can do with a wheelbarrow staged as part of the build up to Pewsey Carnival on Saturday evening.
In total the teams consumed 232 pints...29 gallons of beer of beer or soft drinks although in some cases more was spilt on the ground than consumed as the contestants gulped back their drinks to get back in the race...and on to the next drink stop.
Police estimated there were up to 5,000 people lining the streets in the centre of Pewsey to watch this annual homage to the builder's barrow.
The event is even threatening to become more popular than the carnival procession itself, which is taking place on Saturday, starting at 7.30pm from the Milton Road carnival field.
Year on year the wheelbarrow race teams come up with new ideas and new themes and one or two this time around poked wry fun at the controversial sex novel Fifty Shades of Grey - with one barrow complete with an Old English sheepdog entitled Fifty Shades of Dulux Grey.
The Duchess of Cambridge was there along with Prince William, in a team with Prince Harry and Devizes MP Claire Perry, who who was among the crowd, could not have failed to see David Cameron and Nick Clegg courtesy of the Eton Boyz (Pewsey Youth Council).
Music and bands always inspires some of the fancy dress teams and Freddie Mercury and Queen rubbed shoulders with ELO, a team of seven Elvis Presleys, Kiss, LMFAO, Michael Jackson and Abba-Toir complete with joints of meat.
Pewsey Vale teachers probably cringed when they saw former pupils with their Wil Baro Rase entry while the management of agricultural engineers TH White must have applauded the homemade pull along tractor made from genuine scrap parts by apprentices and young engineers from the company’s Marlborough workshops.
The biggest entry was a group of friends, 21 in total, who became Can-Can dancers for the night and their wheelbarrow float boasted a can-can dancer made entirely from beer cans.
There were soldiers and sailors, pirates, aeroplanes with their crews, party girls, girl farmers with a sheepdog, jockeys complete with horse, Wiggins on Tour with eight friends from the Coopers Arms pedalling a hired Pedibus, Red Indians, wrestlers, lifeguards and the Flintstones (Pewsey Amateur Dramatic Society) and of course Meerkats.
The man who founded the race more than 30 years ago, Tony Kimber, admitted he was lost for words. Surrounded by the decorated barrows he said: “The quality tonight is very, very good.”