Preston’s annual Easter bonnet parade attracted a record breaking number of entrants yesterday, as the rain failed to take attention away from the annual festivities.Advertisement
68 kids in total made a splash on Avenham Park’s main stage, being invited up one by one to be scored by the judges. The contestants’ age range varied from eleven to six and a half months, and most had crafted their head attire with the help of competition sponsors Hobbycraft and a team of Guilders in the bonnet making tent at the creative village.
Before the competition began, the judges declared what they were looking for from this year’s entrants. Guild Festival Director Stella Hall, the Mayor and Vicar of Preston, Ken Williams, General Manager of event sponsors St. George’s Shopping Centre, and Fiona Kernohan from competition sponsors Hobbycraft, all agreed that they were basing their scores on extravagance, creativity and effort. They certainly weren’t disappointed.
The winner, eleven year old Keenan Walmsley from Bamber Bridge, brought some colour to the waterlogged stage in front of the Pavilion, sporting an impressive basket-inspired creation with colourful papier mache eggs nestled inside.
His prize was £60 in Hobbycraft gift vouchers and a huge chocolate egg to take home. Keenan was probably lucky to come away with the prize, as competition was tough and the judges seemed to spend quite a bit of time deliberating over their decision.
After the parade, Blog Preston spoke at length with the judges to find out what they thought of the bonnets, the Egg Rolling event on the whole and the significance of this Easter weekend for the rest of the 2012 Guild year.
Mayor Bobby Cartwright thought all the bonnets were “just amazing”. Commenting on the number of entrants this year, she said: “I can remember nine years ago when only half a dozen entered so it’s really gained momentum. And what a task! It’s not a task I would like to do very often. You look at all those little faces and you would like them all to win.”
The Mayor could be seen scrambling across the muddy Pavilion after the parade had finished, and she never doubted that Prestonian spirit would win through against the poor weather: “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it doesn’t matter what the weather’s like, the people of Preston turn out. I just think it’s absolutely wonderful”.
When asked about how the day’s event lines up with the Preston Passion and the rest of the Guild year, she was full of enthusiasm: “What a start, seeing the hundreds and hundreds of people that took part in the Passion on Friday, what a fantastic advert for the city of Preston. We were so lucky, so lucky that the BBC chose Preston to start with. I’ve been really proud to be the Mayor, I’m just sorry I’ve got to give it up at the end of May!”
Before she left, the Mayor offered a final note of praise for Guild Festival Director Stella Hall, who she claimed had “brought all of this together”. Catching up with Stella later, we asked her what she thought of the Preston Passion and the traditional Easter weekend events.
She said: “I couldn’t have asked for a better start. I am very proud of that [Preston Passion]. We’ve spent the last two years planning and working on it, and for it to finally come to fruition on Friday, followed by a fabulous Lancashire Market on Saturday, and then today’s turnout even though it was awful weather, it’s just superb.”
Knowing that the event was never going to be a failure, she described how the Guild team had “pulled out all the stops” to provide a whole range of things for people to see and do in this special year.
“Hopefully this time next year, egg rolling will be firmly fixed in the tradition not just for Prestonians but for people from further afield. We’ve let people know that it’s unique to here but that it’s something anybody can do anywhere.”
Finally, Fiona Kernohan from Hobbycraft, said:”’It was great seeing so many families brave the weather and get creative in the Hobbycraft Easter Bonnet making tent, we were delighted to be able to provide materials and the prizes for the Easter Bonnet Parade and hope that it has inspired families to get involved in more Guild Events this year.”