Sleaford went to town for Christmas with bells on at this year’s festive market.
The event saw crowds flocking to the stalls and attractions from the outset when even more to see and do for families.
Proceedings kicked off with a colourful procession up Southgate to the Market Place led by Sleaford All Knighters Scooter Club and the local steampunk groups of Sleaford and Heckington, as well as families who were treated to free Santa hats and sweets from Stacks children’s play centre.
The market was declared open from the stage by Town Crier John Griffiths, Mayor Adrian Snookes and the Sleafordian and Young Sleafordian of the Year, David Marriage and Charlotte Gibbs.
Shops opened their doors to cater for the masses joined by stalls, music and entertainment in Millstream Square, the Legionnaires Club, White Hart Mews, the Market Place, the Town Hall, Navigation Yard and Eastgate car park.
Coun Cara Sandy from the organising group felt the procession created a great buzz in the town from the outset with a good crowd eagerly awaiting the launch. She said: “We wanted everyone to know we were open for business. The scooters helped and the steam punkers looked stunning.
“Everyone was happy and buying things and using our free give-aways. They liked the snow globes, the stilt walker and balloon man went down well.
“Wherever I went everywhere was so busy. I was a little worried about the Legionnaires Club but that was busy, as was Millstream Square and the Bristol Arcade was packed.”
She said they had done a lot to increase the offer, with more attractions and freebies such as the bungees and climbing wall. She wanted to provide even more next year.
Coun Sandy was keen to see even more businesses getting on board, paying tribute to the likes of the Rewind Bar which laid on a children’s disco.
Lots of traders put on a special effort, setting up stalls outside their businesses selling everything from Thai curry to pigs in blankets in a roll. Music was relayed around the town with singers, choirs and even the brass section of the RAF College Cranwell band.
Schools and youth organisations got involved too including Our Lady of Good Counsel School who took over White Hart Mews with their trees and bottle stall.
Sleaford Methodist Church held its ever-popular Christmas Tree Festival with over 80 tres of all shapes and sizes on show, a children’s trail to follow and refreshments helping to raise money for the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance.
St Denys’ Church held its magical, candle-lit Christingle service for families during the afternoon too, followed by the grand switch-on.
As for not closing the road through the town, Coun Sandy said the high cost of laying on security to man barriers made it too much of a financial drain on the budget, whereas funds could be spent on more entertainment instead. Due to the need for emergency access along the street, it would only have allowed for a mere 13 stalls. “We made the most of what we have,” she said.
“We could not have put funfair rides in there because of the overhanging trees,” she said, paying tribute to the work and dedication of her fellow organising team members: Karen Pole, Tracey Giannasi, Stephanie Goodland and Lisa Tidy. (Turn to page 10).