A few weeks back I went to the Oxford Pride Parade and was very disappointed (you can read about it here.) I still think Oxford could learn from really any small town in the US about how to throw a parade, but the Cowley Road Carnival Parade was pretty good. There was a marching band, dancers, floats, spectacle, costumes, and balloons being handed to kids. Unlike the Pride Parade, there was also a good number of observers lining the street.
After watching the parade, we walked over to South Parks where the rest of the carnival was set up. It seemed like a pretty big deal, so I’m not sure how this was the first year we have attended. There were three stages: an acoustic stage, a local bands stage, and a large stage that had a kids talent competition while we were there – this was kind of awesome as there was a load of Michael Jackson tributes with little kids break dancing. There were several other music producing areas including a DJ with a bubble blowing machine. Across most of the park you could hear more than one of these stages which wasn’t great, but the sound when you actually went and stood in front of them was fine, so I guess it worked.
I always think these things are way more fun with kids and more than ever I was wishing I had one with me; a timid one to be precise! Why? Cause there was a totally awesome and massive slide, and the only adults going on it were those with children who were too scared to go down on their own. In retrospect, I should have just nabbed one! There was a rock climbing wall and several other fun activities also, but none as cool as the slide.
So parade, music, fun activities… that just leaves us with food. There was a remarkable number of Jamaican food stands. I really don’t know why this was as I’ve never thought of Oxford being a Jamaican hub; maybe it is. I don’t think I’ve eaten very much Jamaican food, so I thought I should try something. I noticed some pasty type things and so we got a couple– one chicken, one lamb. Disappointing; we didn’t even finish them! However, we went on to find proper doughnuts, making Ant a very happy man, yet still with room for a Mr Whippy. Surprisingly, Ant resisted a bag of fairy-floss (‘cotton-candy’ ‘candy-floss’) – however, he did look longingly and drool a bit at it. We also had a pint of beer from a very cool biodegradable cup that looked like plastic.
One last comment. On our way out we noticed people ‘picnicking’ at the entrance. I understand they don’t want people bringing in their own alcohol, but a bunch of people drinking at the entrance seems kind of wrong for a family event – maybe setting up a ‘BYO beer garden’ a little distance away would have been better!
Over all, thumbs up to the Cowley Road Carnival! Next year I’m taking the Pooley twins who will be almost 2 and we’re going down that slide!