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Desert Orchid for hobby horse festival?

Britain's first-ever festival of hobby horses is being planned for the Oxfordshire town of Banbury - and there'll be no shortage of troughs in the town.

But they'll be filled with flowers.

The festival theme is being picked up by the award-winning organisers of Banbury in Bloom, who plan to have horse-shaped planters and appropriate floral displays in the streets.

Banbury was the national runner-up in the large towns section of the 1999 Britain in Bloom contest, having won the South East title the year before.

Toni Magean, who's co-ordinating the floral fiesta, is hoping the horse theme will help win the first prize in 2000.

He thinks judges will appreciate the link to the town's famous "Ride a cock horse" nursery rhyme - which was the inspiration for the new event.

The Beasts Around Banbury Cross festival is due to take place on the weekend of July 1 and 2, 2000.

Members of Adderbury Morris Men and Bloxham Morris are helping to organise the event, and a number of morris creatures are expected to attend. The Outside Capering Crew is bringing four tourney-style horses.

Sandy Glover of the United Fools' Union, which also includes beasts of disguise in its membership, is hosting one of two web sites for the event.

Funding is being sought for a professional sculptor to work with schoolchildren to create a giant processional beast.

And Toni Magean has begun devising a floral hobby horse, to be shown off around north Oxfordshire.

Festival organisers are delighted with the Britain in Bloom link. "Perhaps it's too much to hope that we'll be able to feature Desert Orchid - either the flower or the racehorse," said a spokesman, "but we note that Jackstraws Morris has a beast called Daisy....."

The United Fools Union

Beasts Around Banbury Cross




1999 Simon Pipe, Mark Rogers, The Outside Capering Crew

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