THE Inverell Apex Club went ahead with the Venetian Carnival on Saturday despite the elections and despite the rain. After all, the event has been a long tradition in the local community. So long, that it would take more than elections and rain to stop it.
The event was first held in December 1951 on the banks of the Macintyre River in Campbell Park.
Other towns had Christmas carnivals and Inverell Apex decided the town needed an event around Christmas where other groups could hold fund raising activities in a family atmosphere.
Why Venetian? The name “venetian” was chosen to highlight the river and borrow the concept of “carnivale” on the canals of Venice.
There were many fund raising groups in Inverell and all were invited to attend, each with their own unique attraction such as cake stalls, “Games of Chance”, lucky numbers and raffles. One popular site was the Ambulance “lucky number” stall. At the time the ambulance service was run on a membership system and local officers had to collect regular subscriptions from the members and fund raise very much like the Westpac helicopter service does today. Over the years the carnival gradually got bigger with almost every service club, sporting organisation and charity taking part.
The Venetian Carnival was always free to enter and then a charge per family was introduced. The venue in Campbell Park made it hard to restrict entry so in 1984 the Club moved to Rugby Park. A gate charge per person was introduced but it lacked the atmosphere and after several years the decision was made to return to the riverside.
It was at Rugby park that one of the more adventurous means of delivering Santa was tried when Santa parachuted onto the footy field with a smoke flare attached to his foot. Unfortunately the Apexian doing the public address joked that Santa might be on fire, at which time 500 children began screaming and crying. Luckily Santa wasn’t on fire and managed to deliver the lollies and calm the children down.
With the return of the Carnival to the riverside venue a few years later another ambitious delivery of Santa was tried, with a flying fox hitched to a house across the river and Santa wizzed from bank to bank at a great rate of knots. Again Santa arrived without injury.
Santa has seen fit to use every possible conveyance including: fire engine, police car, police motor cycle, motor boat, jet ski, horse drawn cart, antique cars and sports cars. How will Santa arrive this year? You’ll have to be there to find out. But you can be assured he will have the famous lolly bags!
In the initial years the feature of the night was Santa followed by fireworks, over the years the entertainment has varied from low key events to celebrity appearances such as Humphrey B Bear and John Williamson.