Annual carnival is cancelled in favour of a donkey derby

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IT MAY be the first year for six decades without a carnival but there is still a big reason to celebrate on Hayling.

Dwindling entries to the float procession has led to organiser Hayling Lions pulling the event altogether.

Instead, this Saturday, Legions Field will be transformed for a traditional donkey derby to mark the Diamond Jubilee and many of the usual carnival events such as the dog show.

Marilyn Skennerton, who has organised the event since 1983, said: ‘In my first year there were 89 floats. Last year there were 12.

‘You can’t have a carnival without a float procession so, rather than run it down to a point where people say “It’s not how it used to be”, the decision was taken by the Lions to stop running it and look at doing something completely different, something more relevant to this day and age.

‘People work longer hours and money is not readily available to create a float.

‘The Lions are organising an annual Donkey Derby. It’s not in its place but it’s another attraction for the island.’

Hayling Carnival began in 1952 to mark the Queen’s Coronation and was usually held in August.

Paul Fisher, chairman of Hayling Island Residents’ Association, said: ‘It’s very sad but understandable.

‘They tried so hard but there wasn’t the level of participation they had in the past.

‘You can’t force people to do floats.

‘They have tried their hardest for years.

‘We are all really looking forward to the donkey derby as it’s a little bit of a substitute for some of the activities from the carnival.’

The event starts at 10am for the car boot sale and the donkey derby and fete are from 1pm. Teas will be provided by Hayling First Responders which will provide first aid cover.

Entry is £1 for adults and children go free.

Community groups that would like a free stall should contact the organisers through the website