Pictures from the 2011 Brownhills Canal Festival

Today, I paid a visit to the annual Brownhills Canal Festival. It was a cracking day weather wise, and the event enjoyed all the usual attractions – canoes, stalls, food, boats. It seemed a little more muted than last year, with a few less boats and the crowd seemed a tad thinner, which was surprising given the glorious sunny day. Still, it was a fun, typically English event with all the usual characters and fun to be had.

Sadly, I don’t think the publicity message was getting through, and I implore the organisers to connect with the online community next year. In the run up to this year’s event, I had over 600 hits in 4 days searching for it – the only links online being mentions in Chasewaterstuff’s excellent blog and, the article published here and a few cursory notes in waterway event calendars. Online resources like my blog and others are here to help, please use them. This is a terrific event and we all want to help get the message out there.

Please click on any image to see a larger version.

The canoes were as popular as ever...

The clown enjoyed an appreciative audience.

It didn't seem as large or crowded as previous years, which was a shame. It id get quite bustling at times.

It's the characters I love most.

There were lots of folk on bikes so I blended in quite well.

I can't see face painting without thinking of Phoenix Nights, but the kids seemed blissfully unaware.

Kids today seem born with webbed feet. I'm terrified of water. This young lass was having a ball.

I loved these guys.

A cracking day, with excellent weather.

This entry was posted in Brownhills stuff, cycling, Environment, Events, Features, Followups, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, Just plain daft, Local Blogs, Local media, Panoramio updates, Reader enquiries, Shared media, Social Media, Walsall community, Walsall Council. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Pictures from the 2011 Brownhills Canal Festival

  1. john willett says:

    Bob i totally agree.i attend every year with my wife and the Brownhills Townswomen Guild stand…we also in the past have tried to promote the Memo,as we have today…but as usual the “theres nothing to do in Brownhills ” attitude has prevailed…Congrats to the Memo committee for yet another superb night of entertainment last night…

    • Have to say that Laura and the team at the Memo are doing a cracking job. She’s engaged the online media, like me, and we get the promo out there. In return, she’s writing good promo stuff and really getting in the swing of things. It’s exemplary.

      Best wishes


  2. wolves sue says:

    Hi bob, I attended the event, travelling from wolverhampton. I to was a little let down by the amount of stalls. I spent less than 20mins of glorious sunny weather enjoying what they had to offer. I sadly had more fun looking round tesco. Keep up the good work bob.

    • richard says:

      wolves sue.if tesco is you ideal day out please visit ther flag ship store in cheshunt hertfordshire.they have even more types of potato and shoes in most sizes not to mention over 2 types of broccoli.LOL.regards richard…oh dont forget crisps in several flavours…LOL

  3. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    I enjoyed a too-brief visit to the canal festival yesterday..other duties etc..I enjoyed the sight of the captivating canal boats again. The many stalls..and the surprising number of local organisations they represent, caught my eye, too. I can only imagine the effort that they put into their presentation for the day.
    The dirty old canal of long ago is now a treasure for Brownhills, and the ongoing work to restore and complete the canal network link..through Brownhills..will bring benefits for future generations. I hope to be able to spend a bit more time..and to go on a boat ride here at next year’s canal festival….your canal-side photos and videos show what most of us miss out on by not riding cycles, Bob.
    Well done to all involved
    David Evans

  4. Nick says:

    Thanks for the pictures/blog again Bob..! Brilliant…They warm an old ex-pats heart again… 🙂 Yes its fantastic that (at least) the canal system is or will be restored again. There is so much exciting history lying there on the towpaths and not least in the people, animals and boats the belonged / belong there.
    Rosie and Jim eat your heart out..haha. Great job by all that took part in organising a fun family day with the canal at the heart.

  5. LIsa says:

    I saw the poster advertising Local Charity Stalls at the canal festival, this made me quite upset actually. I help run the B-CASS Disabled Centre, now based in Silver Court, but was previously housed in the old playgroup building in Lindon Drive and before that at the Brownhills Community School. We have been active for 22 years and celebrate our 23rd birthday in September this year. We are a self financing group, we receive no council funding and we are completely supported by member donations and the goodwill of our members’ friends and families. Although we are not a registered charity we are recognized by the local authority. We have done lots of good work over the past years including teaching new skills to our members, providing a comfortable place for people to visit with their friends and providing free benefit advice, amongst other things. We also hold a bingo session every Thursday night, which is good fun and provides our members – some of whom would never have an evening out if it wasn’t for our bingo.

    We have never been asked to put a stall on at the canal event and we have not even been made aware of who to contact should we wish to put a stall on. I know there are many in Brownhills who do not know who we are and what we do, but to our members we are an essential service and after 22 years of hard work, shouldn’t we be recognized as a long standing Local Charity?

  6. JeepBoy says:

    the cyclist pictured is George ‘Mad’ Bradbury – ex-Chasewater karting champion

  7. Lee says:

    We had a most enjoyable day and hopefully raised awareness of the Scouts in the local area.
    We too felt it seemed a little quiet and there were some empty pitches, but at least the weather was good!
    In response to a comment above, this is the first year we have been involved and it is was by asking, not by invite.
    I understand that the organisation of the event has changed hands and maybe this is why there was very little publicity; definitely an area to improve on.

  8. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    I have enjoyed a pleasant walk through Holland Park, by the Library. .My first stroll around this park. I have missed out on this little treasure in Brownhills for years, it would appear! I have yet to find those elusive , beautiful local deer. I expect they were there somewhere, looking at me! Poor them!

    kind regards
    David Evans

  9. richard says:

    hi in response to the above comments,the canal festival does not invite stalls to atend,if people wish to hold a stall they are very welcome to apply to the brownhills local committee and the stall will be for publicity this was organised by the same people as last year and was actualy for emty pitches ther were non this is a festival not a regimental line up.,lee obviously does not understand event organisation.many thanks richard organiser.

    • Hi Richard.

      You’re not going to like this, but whoever is doing your publicity hasn’t got a bloody clue, it’s as simple as that. You and the committee really need to take time out and talk to people who attend – not friends and other members, but punters, members of the public. Your target market. People simply didn’t know this was happening until it was too late.

      Last year, I suggested you contact me in time for this year. You did not. I’m quite happy to post up any of your events, which at current hit rates, get 3500 pairs of eyeballs a week here on the Brownhills Blog. I charge nothing for this, and an email would take you five minutes. Facebook pages are free, as are WordPress blogs, which can link with twitter and Facebook. An couple of hours one evening, a little bit of regular input – also free – and you’ll reach far more than ever a leaflet drop will for far less time, money and energy.

      If you want to see how this works in practice, take a look at what Laura Hucker is doing for The Memo in Brownhills. She’s really plugged in and really working the internet thing well.

      Last year Stuart Williams – possibly the best social web designer in the locality, and certainly the best connected local advocate in Walsall – offered to help you get on the net with this. Stuart is a thoroughly nice bloke, a gentleman in fact, and would have been an immense help to you, yet you still had no web presence. Had I not found a tatty, rain-soaked flyer at Pelsall, the information on the net for this year’s festival would have been far more scant than it was. Search for ‘Brownhills Canal Festival 2011’ in google and the top 4 hits right now link to my blog. They should instead be a link to it’s own site, with contact details, pictures and information.,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=74c446a730e5f221&biw=1237&bih=1408

      The excellent Chasewater stuff and Waterscape mention you – other than that, it’s a handful of diary entries. I had a huge amount of search hits looking for this event. People are interested in this.

      As to feedback on the event itself, I’m not sure taking the piss out of your punters is the best approach. It would do you well to take a look around Facebook and the web and see what comment the event attracted. I’ve not seen such a marked reaction to the festival before.

      Like you, I would like to see this event endure and thrive, but people have to know when it’s happening and how they might take part. There are a whole range of people whose involvement would be great, but don’t seem to be there. They simply won’t invite themselves. There needs to be some kind of pitch. Again, I’ll help by posting any such pitch. Mail me with the details and I’ll push it as hard as you like.

      What really exemplifies my point is that you’ve now said people should contact the Local Committee three times, and not once left any details. People won’t work that hard.

      I’m really trying to help here. Please accept the helping hands that are offered. We all want this thing to go with a swing.

      Best wishes


      Mail me at BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot Com

    • Lisa says:

      It’s all very well saying groups like mine should contact the local committee, how are we supposed to do this if the contact details are not known and there are no appeals for groups to put on a stall?

  10. The Edditer says:

    Bob makes some excellent points here on the online publicity front – and there are lots of simple things which can help, as he has outlined.

    The key thing in publicising events to the masses is the newspapers, though, they reach more local people than the net, notably the 40% or so who don’t have web access and have no interest in computers – coincidentally many of these will be the target audience for “nostalgia” type events such as this.

    The thing with newspapers is, they are hard pressed and thinly spread, so it’s not just a matter of putting out a press release and hoping. You need to engage directly with them, follow the release up with a call to the reporters, and arrange an interesting photo opportunity at a time that’s convenient to them – they’ve been getting rid of staff for several years now, and you have to do everything possible to make it easy for them.

    And then there’s paid advertising – always a problem for community events, it’s just so expensive, but it makes a big difference.

    I include posters, handouts etc in publicity as well, of course. No doubt all these things were done.

    To be fair to Richard, he did approach me last year and I gave him one or two pointers, but we didn’t seem to connect again after that. I’d be happy to advise him again if he’s still interested, but I think for most people Facebook and Twitter are the online places to get started with event publicity now.

    Check out the Stan Ball Centre Facebook page as a good example:

    And again, don’t forget the dead wood press!


  11. stymaster says:

    I attended, as usual. I love canal festivals, but Bob’s right- the info was not out there, there were fewer stalls (nice to see Cats Protection though). I saw an article in the local press a while ago- but David Evans (above) who seems to have a strong community interest- asked here, on Bob’s blog, for dates. This isn’t enough to publicise an event like this: I’m sure there’s been a huge effort involved to organise it, but some of that effort goes to waste if the word isn’t out. Last year had more food stalls, more boats, and more people, and this year’s weather could not have been better.

  12. D.Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    some very thought-provoking comments, and some very useful points, too
    Lichfield is having a big do soon..the bunting is up all along Dam Street, and there’s a poster for this “do” just by Christchurch Lane, as you enter the town. I expect every approach to the town has its large poster, too.
    The local authority is giving its visible support there……….
    How does Walsall Met Borough show its support for this and other local events in Brownhills?
    I hope that a more modern approach to promoting the event results and that next year’s festival will be a succesful and enjoyable day for everyone.
    best wishes
    David Evans

  13. Scott says:

    I have to agree with Brownhillsbob and others, the event may be good for Brownhills, but its no good if you don’t publicise it. A quich search on google found these contact details for Brownhills Local Committee on the Walsall Voluntary Action website:

    I assume they are correct.

  14. richard says:

    hi bob its soon time for the canalside festival 10th year,could you email me please,many thanks.

  15. Pingback: Pictures from the 2012 Brownhills Canal Festival « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  16. Pingback: Pictures from Brownhills Canal Festival 2013 | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.