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Fun and games on the Village Green, Pride 2005


“'Will you organise a two day programme of community events for ?’ I was asked by the Birmingham organiser, Paul Steeples, acting for the Gay Business Partnership. The brief was to include some of the fun elements such as a tug of war and dog show, which presumably had their roots in the ‘’ from years back. The venue was to be the ‘Village Green’ – in fact a car park off Bromsgrove Street which was turfed for the weekend.

I dived in with enthusiasm, seeking out official tug of war rules, finding a referee, sourcing a proper rope ‘The rope should be not less than 10 and not more than 12.5 cm in circumference, minimum of 35 metres in length.’ (That’s a lot of rope, and turned out to weight a ton and be pretty unmanageable!). I discovered where to source bouncy castles, children’s entertainers and did a deal on Sainsburys’ entire stock of post-Easter Crème Eggs for the egg and spoon race. I found a local gay dog groomer to donate prizes, give demonstrations of dog grooming and provide a dog sitting service. The National Trust Back to Back sweetshop on Hurst St. gave a jar of sweets for a ‘guess how many in the jar’ competition and another for prizes. Transporting all my hired, begged, borrowed and bought equipment to the ‘village green’ was something of a challenge on the day.

The day didn’t get off to the best start - my walkie talkie didn’t work, the promised helpers didn’t materialise, the community groups were vying over the best spots for their stalls, and overnight, someone had ‘borrowed’ what was to have been the beer tent, – fortunately having to bring their beer with them didn’t seem to deter anyone later.

However, as people gravitated to the Green, a great atmosphere began to build up. The community stalls and bouncy castle provided colour and there was a buzz of noise of happy people. The handbag hurling (a pink fluffy affair from Oxfam weighted down with a bag of dried beans) was extremely popular but threatened to take someone’s eye out as the punters’ aims were not entirely accurate. The clown got people juggling and monocycling, people played giant Jenga and everyone seemed happy. The bottles of bubbly donated by the as prizes ensured plenty of competitors for the races and tug of war! The dog show had lots of entries (including a large stuffed dog which was duly dragged round the arena) and the overall winner was chosen by Rowetta, who made a guest appearance on stage.

Fortunately, we hit lucky with the weather in 2005 and the Sunday, when we had the bulk of the organised activities, was hot; Monday was sweltering, and with some lower key entertainment and  activities on offer, it was a great chill out day to round off the weekend's partying".

Contributed by: Lesley Pattenson, 55

Click here to read the full interview with this contributor