Search for a Queen launches Downham Market Festival

Winners of Downham Festival Royalty Pageant, Downham Market Town Hall 
LtoR, Keira Leadbitter (9) (Carnival Princess), Sarah Clayton (20) (Carnival Queen), Ella Ballard (4) (Carnival Princess), Nicola Kennett (7) (Carnival Princess) ANL-160530-083150009
Winners of Downham Festival Royalty Pageant, Downham Market Town Hall LtoR, Keira Leadbitter (9) (Carnival Princess), Sarah Clayton (20) (Carnival Queen), Ella Ballard (4) (Carnival Princess), Nicola Kennett (7) (Carnival Princess) ANL-160530-083150009

The search for a queen began a packed programme of activities as the 42nd annual Downham Festival got underway at the weekend.

A pageant was held at the town hall on Saturday morning to elect a queen and princesses for the festival, which continues throughout this week.

Downham Festival Sunday Funday,
Megan Stewart 11 with Kobi 8 ANL-160529-174353009

Downham Festival Sunday Funday, Megan Stewart 11 with Kobi 8 ANL-160529-174353009

Sarah Claxton, 20, was chosen as the festival queen, with Keira Leadbitter, nine, Nicola Kennett, seven, and Ella Ballard, four, being elected as princesses.

And the princesses assisted town mayor Marion Ross in raising the festival’s flag over the hall yesterday.

The ceremony took place during a French-style cafe event hosting by the Twinning Club to celebrate Downham’s links with the French town of Civray.

Club president Angela Sadler said: “We have been having this coffee morning for the festival for many years, since its foundation, and this year is special as it marks 40 years since Downham and Civray became twin towns.”

As guests enjoyed tea and a variety of cakes, they also had the chance to browse an exhibition of works by the Downham Arts Circle, which will be open throughout Festival week.

More than 90 different artworks were on display, ranging from Captain Jack Sparrow to sunsets, and tigers to the Town Hall itself.

Group chairman Judith Mazur, said: “We hope a lot of people will come in and look at our pictures which are of all sorts of styles.”

And, ahead of today’s carnival, the Howdale was the venue for a fun day which included a dog show hosted by Vets4Pets and a vintage vehicle display.

Downham Festival Sunday Funday, ANL-160529-172953009

Downham Festival Sunday Funday, ANL-160529-172953009

This year’s festival is honouring the Queen’s 90th birthday, with its New Elizabethan Age theme.

Committee secretary Denise Whiley said: “Not many monarchs get to that age; what has been achieved over the past 90 years is mind-boggling and it’s lovely to be able to celebrate that.”

Bingo, children’s parties and a Mamma Mia sing-along night are just a few of the events planned to take place before the festival closes on Saturday.

Mrs Whiley said: “We always ask for suggestions for our events.

“Last year people asked for bingo so we have got a bingo night on Saturday. This is a festival for the people by the people.”