19 April 2024

‘We’re trying to take Carnival to the next level’

by Rebecca Hannant

Hornsea Carnival will be back this weekend with a plethora of free events for the whole family to enjoy – and its organiser has told about the “chaos” behind the scenes as his dedicated committee work hard to make it all happen.

Since 1967, Hornsea Carnival has been a popular event that attracts thousands of people to the town over three days. This year promises to be as exciting as ever, with bands and entertainment and a wide range of traders. The Saturday parade will also be back and bigger than previous years.

Hornsea Carnival chairman Iain Poole, who has been running the event since 2021, said a lot goes into the planning every year as the team must raise enough money to ensure it goes ahead. They clock in hundreds of volunteer hours that go unseen by the public.

Iain said: “We must raise every single penny for Hornsea Carnival to put it on. Each year we hopefully start with a little bit left in the pot which we do like to use to give back to the community. The way we raise that money is through sponsorship, which involves speaking to as many businesses as possible.

“The way I approach that is I have a look at the area, check the business out, and do some research to see if they are financially viable to maybe support us. I don’t want to approach people who are really struggling. I start with an old-school phone call. I just reach out to the company and find the best person to speak to.

“Just managing the logistics on that is a silly amount of time. What you find is people do commit and say yes, we want to help, and I give them an invoice. I then must continually follow up with the business. Just by sponsorship alone, you can lose hundreds of hours.”

This year, the two headline sponsors are Foxglove Homes and the Hornsea Lions. Foxglove Homes donated £1,800 while the Lions contributed £2,000. Although such generosity is hugely welcome, Iain said it only goes so far. To ensure Carnival goes ahead they must also raise money from events throughout the year and through sponsors and donors. Each business that sponsors the event is given social media and website exposure.

Iain also told the Gazette that for each event they must “balance the books” and take risks. In recent years, the committee has adapted to the changing times and adopted new approaches to promoting and running the event.

Iain added: “We put a lot more effort into social media, a lot more than we have done in the past. We recognised that was the way forward. However, again, we must put effort into that. A social media post involves creating and refreshing graphics and videos. We also spend a lot of time responding to people.

“A lot of people still think we get paid. People often think we are getting something out of this. I have put hundreds of hours in. I sometimes work until after midnight just to get things ready for the next day. So, when people see a post at 10am, we have done that out-of-hours in our own time.”

As part of the Carnival’s legacy, Iain said that they will be creating an event management
plan known as the Carnival Bible that covers everything from waste management and road closures to volunteer welfare, license applications and risk assessments.

Iain added: “As a team we are trying to take Hornsea Carnival to the next level just to ensure we are completely compliant. There has always been an idea what the carnival needs to do. Knowledge is constantly passed on. The issue we have is if the team changes, we have no grounding.”

This year’s event will take place in Hall Garth Park on July 21, 22 and 23.

Iain added: “When it comes together on the day, and everyone is happy and everything is working, you see that all the hard work has paid off and been a complete success. You see all the kids getting excited about the acts.

“On Sunday, when it’s done, you sit down and chill – it’s epic.

“Hornsea puts on so many big free events for a small town without any external help. I think there is a lot to be said for that. It’s a lot for the town to be proud about. I think the town needs to realise that they should be proud to have it and for free. Not many places will do that. It is just accessible to all, and as an event that is quite unique.”

The team are also looking for more skilled volunteers, especially those who are tech and digitally savvy. Sponsors are also needed to provide water and snacks to the volunteer team. To get involved, contact the Carnival team via the website, hornseacarnival.org.uk.