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Brownhills Canal Festival barges back in after three years

By Marion Brennan | Brownhills | Attractions | Published:

A popular waterside festival dropped from a town's social calendar since 2016 is to be revived – and turned into a weekend celebration.

The Brownhills Canalside Festival, which regularly attracted more than 2,000 people, has not taken place for the past two years after organisers claimed they were getting too old to stage it.

Now the festival is to be resurrected following an intervention by the Oldbury-based Birmingham Canal Navigations Society who have taken the helm.

Local activist Brian Stringer, on the former organising committee, announced two years ago that because of members' advancing age responsibility for staging the festival was being passed to the Brownhills town centre partnership.

However Diane Mansell, head of the partnership, left for another job and, despite efforts to rescue the festival, the event was shelved. It had been hoped that the council might step in and save the day but nothing happened.

Mr Stringer described the committee, many in their late 70s, as 'a bit old and long in the tooth' to organise the event anymore. "Unfortunately the festival is just a lot of work," he said at the time.

Last year, too, town chiefs failed to organise anything and the future looked bleak for fans of the canalside carnival.

But after fresh talks, the reborn Brownhills festival will take place over the weekend of May 18–19 after the BCN Society stepped in.

Organisers say planning is still in the early stages but the call has gone out for stallholders and traders interested in having a pitch at the event.

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The move has been given a cautious welcome by local councillor Ken Ferguson who said some of the finer details of the event still had to be sorted out.

"It's positive news to have the festival back and will bring footfall into the town with a knock-on effect on local businesses. It's well-attended and the canal area is a quite presentable part of the town," he said today.

"But car parking is an issue as Walsall Housing Group has now built on the former market site that used to be used for parking when the festival was on. These details will have to be ironed out in the months leading up to the event."

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan
@Marion_EStar

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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