It was a long lead-in for us for Pontefract Liquorice Festival, having engaged with Wakefield Council on behalf of the civic society and Friends of Friarwood Valley Gardens, in order to seek improvement to the logistics, marketing, and on the day to provide greater connectivity between the town centre and the gardens. We were asked to support the distribution
of posters and leaflets to businesses and public buildings, which we did. However, the provision of street bunting initially for the Tour de Yorkshire was at our request extended through the season to September. Based on requests from a number of local businesses, we requested the road closure of Valley Road and Ropergate, followed by the relocation of children’s rides to Valley Road.

These improvements were well received by local businesses on Ropergate, Beastfair, and the Friends of Friarwood Valley Gardens.

For almost three weeks solid, Christine & Paul Cartwright had worked on the sourcing of photographs and facts in order to create four banners to celebrate our rich liquorice heritage for display during the festival.

The motivation for this was the lack of some visual representation of that past in previous festivals, and therefore, if no one else was doing that, we thought the civic society ought to. Coincidentally, we were also fortunate to be gifted with the remaining funds of the former Pontefract Liquorice Trust (a local group which used to run the festival), and we thank the remaining trustees for their decision. Once the artwork was complete, we decided to buy two sets of four banners, which were displayed on Southgate, and at the Magistrates Market, who also sought to be included in the event.

On the Friday before the event, Paul Cartwright also did a live interview with Richard Stead for his BBC Radio Leeds breakfast show, which I think went well. Early feedback from local cafes, the Magistrates Market and the Valley Gardens suggests this was a very busy festival, and one of the best. Two days after the Liquorice Festival, we hosted our monthly talk which was billed ‘Civic perspectives from two CEOs’, namely Merran McCrae (Wakefield MDC) and Ian Harvey (Civic Voice).

Thanks also go to one of the newest members, Jaydn Edwards, a student and a volunteer at Pontefract Castle, who has started working on a number of projects, the first of which was an updated Blue Plaque Guide, which was available just in time for the Liquorice Festival, which continues to be available in the library and museum.

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