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Town to be given a say over Extravaganza future

Public meeting to discuss Hungerford's popular Christmas showcase

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886628

Hungerford Christmas Extravaganza

Hungerford Christmas Extravaganza

ORGANISERS of Hungerford’s annual Extravaganza will open up its future for debate.

Local businessman Nigel Perrin said he wanted to challenge critics of the event to come up with fresh ideas at a public meeting.

Mr Perrin, who is on the organising committee, said the Extravaganza was now in its 27th year and remained a showcase for the town and its traders.

But he warned: “It’s all done voluntarily and it’s quite a lot of hard work – it doesn’t just happen.”

He said the Victorian theme was dropped last year, following the loss of the steam engines.

Chamber member Penny Locke told the meeting: “I really missed the Victorian theme.

“Is it worth doing a survey of public opinion?”

Mr Perrin replied: “There was some negative feedback.

“Perhaps we should have a public meeting and canvass opinion and ask for constructive criticism.

“We were struggling to find anything new and felt the Victorian aspect had run its course.

“We changed the name to the Christmas Extravaganza to broaden its appeal.”

Mr Perrin pointed out that the event cost up to £18,000 to stage and told the chamber: “If we’re doing it again this year, I suggest we call a public meeting as soon as possible, because fundraising will need to start soon.

“We need to know: do people still want it? Do they want it to carry on as a Christmas Extravaganza or as something else?”

Chamber member John Willmott warned: “People won’t come to a meeting. They expect it to just happen.”

Mr Perrin said the event attracts up to 10,000 visitors to the town from as far afield as London, Portsmouth and Somerset and felt it was important to allow residents to have some input.

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He said: “A lot of the criticism surrounds the parade.

“Some people say they could do better.

“Well, my message to them is, step up – come and have a go.

“We need constructive criticism and ideas, not just whingeing.”

The chamber agreed to hold a public meeting in mid-May and to arrange a survey of townsfolk to canvass opinion on the future of the Extravaganza.

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