We are a fixed features group, rather than an events group, so we do not normally cover things like carnivals. However, is there any point in trying to conserve and enhance an area with which the people who live there do not identify?
Whilst missing our own usual Acocks Green Focus Group stall today (two different lots of post-surgery recovery to deal with) members of Acocks Green Focus Group did visit Acocks Green Carnival and enjoyed it enormously. Westley Road Recreation Ground (One of the many fixed feature we hope we will never lose!) was packed with stalls, entertainments and people, and everyone seemed to think the day had gone well. Chatting with some stall holders and carnival regulars was interesting. Big Dave at Hall Green Little Theatre said he saw a lot of suburban carnivals around Birmingham but rated Acocks Green’s one of the best. Well known Acocks Green figure and Fox Hollies Green Neighbourhood Forum secretary Ray Newton said that when, recently, he had had to undertake some organisation of the carnival himself he had been told that most Birmingham carnivals are organised by the Council. He had been pointed to one other group who organise their own carnival, for advice. He rang them to be told ‘Oh, we just ask the Council and they book all the stuff for us.’ Ray felt very strongly that this is not the way we do things in Acocks Green and did not ring the Council.
Today there were numerous stalls, often with informative displays, representing local organisations, and plenty of people willing to chat, several plant stalls with plants people had grown in Acocks Green, home made cakes, beautifully presented and locally made preserves (see above!), home made jewellery, a real Punch and Judy show, vast numbers of local historic photographs, performances by local people and much more: plenty the Council could not just have booked for us! There was a real sense of local identity.
It often feels on the first Saturday in July as though Acocks Green people are
on invisible strings which pull them towards The Westley Road ‘rec’ – we were not immune. However, despite the packed area the atmosphere was extremely relaxed and very friendly.
Regardless of the freeze, the squeeze and general cut backs we felt encouraged. We will carry on with our campaigns. Acocks Green is worth keeping!