MASQUERADERS CARNIVAL CLUB HISTORY
After the Carnival in 1985, a group of friends, (mainly from Young Farmers' organisations), got together and discussed the possibility of starting their own club. This seemed to be a mammoth project and in true carnival spirit the group set about the task in hand - a headquarters and building place was required but where? The Countryman Inn at Meare was suggested, as this was central to the group. An approach was made to the landlord at the time, and he agreed the club could use this as their headquarters and, depending on the necessary planning requirements, if any, could build there as well. So a date was set and the group started canvassing for members among family and friends to attend the first official meeting of the club, which took place on 8 December 1985.
After a period of discussion, the name of the club and a set of rules were derived and from this a committee was duly elected. It was also decided the class that the club would enter would be "Comic Feature" and the club would participate at all County Carnivals, including Midsomer Norton, but not Bristol Carnival.
During the first year many possible ways of fundraising were undertaken to gather funds for the first float to be built. These were Carol singing, discos, a Valentine's Masked Ball, barbecue, lottery boards, race nights, 50/50 Auctions, Clay shoots, a Rodeo, Pilton Pop Festival and sponsored events. To everyone's surprise sufficient funds were raised and the first float was finished and entered into the 1986 carnival circuit. The entry was named "Pass the Port - Blub, Blub, Blub". This float was the County Cup winner of the Comic Feature Class.
The club's achievements in the first year with only 25 members had been recognised by almost everyone involved in the carnival circuit as outstanding. The "icing on the cake" was being invited to take part in the Easter Parade in London in 1987, an honour many clubs had to wait years for.
After the success of the first year, the club made a decision to change the class of entry to "Feature Non-Comic" and has gone from strength to strength. We have been in the top four positions since 19989, and in 1998 we were overall County Champions with our entry "Live at Las Vegas" and Joint Champions in 2000 with the entry "Mil-looney-um 2000". In 2001 we became overall County Champions again with our breathtaking entry "Jacks Back".
Many enjoyable years were spent building floats at The Countryman Inn but in 1993 last orders were called in the form of an eviction order and all building had to stop. The club had to find an alternative building site, and to the rescue came the owner of Middleton Engineering who kindly offered his car park to build in for that year only. The hunt was still on for a permanent place to build and, as luck would have it the owners of Abbey Moor Peat Works allowed us to build on their land. In 1996 planning permission was granted and a permanent building was established allowing today's floats to be worked on all year round.
Since 1986 the club has had a turnover of approximately 175 members. Over the last 10 years the average membership has been 60 per year, although currently we have 70 members which includes 2 founder members of the club - David Churches and Pete Hill. In 1994 the club launched its Supporters Club with the aim of encouraging friends and family who did not have time to become full members to feel that they could belong to the club. Since it's launch, it has been a great asset to the club in providing helpers for the fundraising events and building of the floats. We currently have around 40 supporters.
Over the years the floats have become more and more complex, incorporating many moving parts and fantastic light displays. Masqueraders used in excess of 20,000 light bulbs on their entry "Jacks Back" and also had over 50 moving parts! A real sense of achievement for all members and supporters involved.