June 29 saw the highpoint of the new era of Tideswell Wakes. The morning saw black clouds on the overhead and fears were abound that the day may have been a wash out. Instead by midday the clouds were breaking and the first wakes floats were taking to the streets. People were already anticipating the excitement and getting out on to the streets and socialising and enjoying themselves. At 3 o’clock the procession began, there must have been several hundred people on the streets of Tideswell.
— Tideswellman (@tideswellman) June 29, 2013
This year’s Wakes committee have done the village proud by creating a Wakes week to rival the days of old. The Wakes committee managed to put on a full and varied set of events throughout the week, and for Big Saturday they brought Wakes Queens and Marching bands from outside the village To take part in the the carnival.
Wakes Boosts Business
The impact of Tideswell Carnival and Wakes week in general is so good for the village, and also for the Peak District. People from all over the region and beyond came to see the spectacle. The huge increase in tourism pumps much-needed money into the local economy. Businesses like Peak District Dairy who were selling ices and teas as well as the various food stalls that were busy all day.
Many of the local pubs put on some form of musical entertainment to hold the interest of the visitors and provide a relaxing interlude for those who didn’t follow the carnival procession as it made it’s way around the village. I have not seen a carnival like this for many a long year. It took me right back to my childhood. That was the sentiment echoed by many of the local villagers who I chatted to on my way home. Everyone agreed that the new Wakes Committee had succeeded in breathing new life into what was almost a beautiful, but dying tradition.
Publicity is Key for Tideswell Wakes
Organisers of any event will know that good publicity is key. Unless people know about and event, how can they attend. Attracting customers cannot be left to chance and hope. Special effort must be made to attract people and to keep them happy, once they arrive. This years wakes committee made a splendid effort in publicising the weeks events. The publicity work done by the Chair Liz Hill, really was on the money. As well as reaching out to the local newspapers, The Wakes team made sure that local people were kept in the loop by making posts on The Village Voice Web Portal as early as January.
Perhaps the weather played a part in bringing the crowds, but the technology of social media played its part too. The Wakes information website, the Facebook Page and use of Twitter all helped keep the event current and in people’s minds. Friends of Tideswell did their bit too by helping to share and like on Facebook and to Retweet any announcements made regarding the festivities. In the past, it was too easy to forget that a little village in the Peak District was having a carnival, today events appear each day on your social media timelines. It’s harder to forget.
What can other villages learn from Tideswell Wakes?
Up and down the Peak District the Wakes festivals have in recent years, seemed to be dwindling in popularity. So if anyone thought that streets festooned with fluttering bunting were an anachronism, this year Tideswell poured cold water on that theory. Sometimes you have to hit a low to fight back, and earlier in the year Tideswell was without a Wakes committee and may not have had a Wakes at all.
However, sometimes bringing in new faces with fresh enthusiasm is the key. In Today’s modern world of Internet promotion, it no longer serves to print a few flyers, ring the local paper and hope for the best. It no longer serves to say “this is how we’ve always done it” you have to make changes and always strive to improve. Other villages who put on wakes weeks will need to remember that there’s always plenty of competing venues vying for the tourist trade.
So don’t rest on your laurels. Get Decorating, Teamwork is essential, and get the kids involved. The village was decorated in a way that hasn’t been seen for 20 years or more. Each year streets compete for the title of best decorated street, best decorated house and the Tideswell residences showed passion and something that they seemed to almost have forgotten about. It was great to see, and absolutely critical for the survival of Wakes week is that the kids are once again getting involved.
There was also our Wakes Queen and Rosebud Princess with their retinue. In today’s modern world it’s difficult to get teenage girls to put their names forward to be Wakes Royalty, but this year something inspired the youth. Amongst the Carnival, Local DJ’s Wayne and Wright with their portable disco were calling out to local residents and long lost friends. The Roberts Family who always make a big effort didn’t disappoint this year, they all dressed as superheroes. We saw a Circus, the Tour De France, Jimi Hendrix, Bees and Beekeppers and many others. Getting involved is key.
Wakes is More just than just Carnival
Although Big Satd’y is the the day Tideswellians eagerly anticipate, we should remember all those people who give their time generously to be Wakes stewards and those who help with the general production of the Wakes. Let’s not forget all the people who sell tickets and put on events for charity, all the volunteers who serve teas and decorate the local churches. There is a tendency to think of Tidza Wakes as being all about the carnival but Wakes is an ancient tradition that stems from decorating the local wells to give thanks for the water.
Tideswell Well Dressing & Torchlight Procession
This years Well Dressings were truly remarkable. The main Well Dressing was in Fountain Square, but there were three other wells to be seen. Brilliant efforts by Tideswell school, The community Association and Tideswell Pre School.
As Tideswell’s afternoon procession could be deemed a fantastic success, many people began to drift , home or to the pub for a bite to eat before the grand finale of the day which was at 9:45, the torchlight procession.
Reminiscent of the Viking festival of Up-Hellier Tideswellians and visitors join together in a twighlight parade led once again by Tideswell band. For some is probably the most memorable part of Tideswell Wakes. The procession walks the from Wheston Bank, through the narrow streets to the Horse and Jockey pub, then back up the town, finishing at the George Hotel. Dancers are flanked by Torch bearers on both sides and as the band plays the Tideswell processional. People weave in and out to a heady, and informal Morris dance. A sight to be remembered.
This short parade is something that visitors to Tidza should strive not to miss and by 10:30 it’s all over and people begin to dissipate, to the local pubs and their beds. Revellers go home with happy and full hearts and even fuller bellies. Until next year when they’ll do it all again at Tideswell Wakes 2014