IT’S a sad year for Dorchester as a lack of volunteers has put an end to 60 years of summer carnivals.

The town’s Round Table organised the carnival for four decades before stepping down in 2013.

Since then, teams of dedicated volunteers have been putting themselves forward to organise the annual event. But in March this year, it was announced that the 2019 carnival would not go ahead, although plans are being considered for a revival in 2020.

With this in mind, we look back at the revelry of 1986.

1986 saw a drastic change in the traditional Miss Dorchester contest; no longer were contestants judged on their beauty or glamour, but on their personality instead. Applicants were also only accepted if they lived within a 10-mile radius of Dorchester.

Chairman of the carnival committee, Mr Peter Hazelton, said: “The changes were made to find a local girl who really has the interests of the area at heart.”

The committee hoped that with the emphasis on personality, candidates would feel less shy about putting their name forward.

Eventually, Miss Carolyn Bullen won the esteemed title of Miss Dorchester. The 18-year-old sales secretary from Cheselbourne said: “It gives me pleasure in representing the county town of Dorset and I will carry out my duties to the best of my abilities.”

The beauty queen took part in the Olds Motor Group Land Rover Pull. Teams of six competed to haul a Land Rover, driven by Miss Bullen or one of her attendants, Helen Lacey and Lauren Benton, over a slightly uphill course during the Fun Day held on Salisbury Fields.

It seemed the carnival week of 1986 was chock-a-block with activities, from the traditional four-legged race to the 24-hour pool marathon and balloon race.

Making a welcome return to the year was Huntsman Ales’ barrel rolling competition. Groups of three teamed up to hurl heavy casks along a course well protected by straw bales. The only semblance of healthy and safety awareness lay in the requirement that all participants wore industrial quality gloves in the process.

Children were encouraged so save up their Smarties tubes in a fundraising event new to 1986. Organisers invited youngsters to fill up their tubes with pennies and decorate the exterior, with a prize for the most striking decoration. A colouring competition was also being run by Trevor Bevins, with a prize awarded for the most colourful picture.

Some other interesting characters made an appearance, including Sir National Pig – the mascot of the National Westminster (NatWest) Bank. Local boy Mark Noble, 17, showed off his BMX skills in a display with the Vincent Frame Freestyle Team, and the Geoff Allen radio show made history broadcasting live from the carnival market site.

Local resident Steve Charles also contributed a poem to the carnival programme, entitled Salisbury Fields Forever. It begins:

“It all began, with a walking band

On its way to Salisbury Field.

As the pied pipers played

The wondrous parade

Told of a fun day about to be held.”

There was great emphasis upon the carnival serving the local people.

The chairman of Dorchester Round Table, Lionel Thorne, was reported saying: “Already, I have received many requests from local charities and organisations who require help. Frankly, they are all needy causes and Dorchester Round Table, with your support, will do as much as it can. Please help make this year’s carnival a record breaker.”

As per tradition, all the money raised in the event was allocated to local charities and organisations. Those supported the year before, in 1985, included the West Dorset Family Support Service, the Dorset MacMillan Hospice Service, the Mayor’s Appeal Fund and the Dorchester Association for the Disabled.

The programme was inundated with pleas for residents to attend the event, perhaps a response to the washout of 1985 and the effect of torrential rains on audience numbers.

The town mayor of the time, Doug Bowring, said: “Please do not let us down. Whatever the weather, come on down and support the events of our local Round Table. Help made Dorchester Carnival bigger, better and even more enjoyable than ever before.”

The carnival of 1986 was sponsored by Olds Motor Group.