A BRIEF HISTORY OF OTLEY CARNIVAL
Otley Carnival was first proposed in 1982, at a Public Meeting by the Town Mayor, Councillor Jim Spencer.
He had been inspired by childhood memories of Leeds Children’s Day in Roundhay Park, and had a vision
to involve EVERY child in Otley through schools and organisations dealing with children and young adults.
This Public Meeting raised the interest of just four volunteers who formed the start of the
committee with more co-opted at a later date, many of whom stayed on until 2021!
The first Carnival
June ’83 saw 5,000 people watching the parade and enjoying events on the Carnival Field
(Garnetts Field Riverdale Road) and £1,980 was raised for a Bilirubinometer for the Maternity Ward at Wharfedale General Hospital.
The sun shone and it was a very hot day. There was a children’s Fort, races and a colouring competition as well as the crowning of the 1983 Carnival Queen Louise.
We said a huge Thank You to Otley for making it all worthwhile. We then decided to put on another Carnival in 1984 after seeing the children’s happy faces and hearing their laughter made us realise that we had given Otley a “Fun filled family day out” and that has been our aim every year since.
The Carnival has gone from strength to strength, thanks to the wonderful and whole
hearted support of the Community of Otley. The Schools, Organisations, Charities, Businesses and Townsfolk alike had each year astounded the Committee with the help, support and enthusiasm given to the Carnival.
We were able to introduce a Window Dressing Competition and a Poster Competition to attract visitors to the Town, which have been very well supported and looked forward to.
After 15 years of reliable sunshine, the Carnival started to have mixed weather, but this has never affected the wonderful support of people watching the Parade and filling our collecting tins.
Wind, rain and hail have never stopped our Parade or field event. Only three reasons in 39 years have cancelled the Carnival: Foot and Mouth Outbreak, Flooding over the Bridge and for the past two years Covid…
2022 and beyond
In 2022 we welcomed a new committee, who have taken on the planning of Otley
Carnival. We thank the Committee Members for taking on the Carnival, and for bringing back a day of colour, laughter and a “free fun filled family day out” to Otley this June.
We wish them all the best for this year, and for many more Carnivals to come!
Memoirs provided by Mrs Rhona Smith - Former Carnival Committee Member & Chair