Editorial: Roll on the carnival

Everyone has their own ideas on what they'd do if they were in charge of entertainment at the Caroline Bay Carnival.

Invariably these are people who have not volunteered to go on the organising committee.

So a small group of volunteers do their best each year, and cop a mix of praise and criticism for their efforts.

Yet some things can't be argued.

After 101 years the carnival is still here. Unique is a strong word, but unique it could well be (think talent quests, beauty pageants, pet shows and big digs). And it's free.

New Zealand's family-friendly atmosphere of years past has been bottled in South Canterbury and is uncorked for a fortnight each year, and many people love it.

Some come here specifically because of it.

And while it is unrealistic to expect the huge crowds of decades past - there are just more holiday options today - there has been a growing feeling that change was required, that the carnival programme looked tired.

Good news then that the association hierarchy is looking at a younger and fresher set this year. And somehow saving money in doing so.

The proof now will be in the response.

People more savvy than me say it does show a change in direction, with some talented acts among them.

There's a proper New Year's Eve show, the first in three years, Midge Marsden is back after being popular last time, as is Shane Cortese for a second visit.

It will be the first time at the festival for the Howard Morrison Junior Trio, while the attraction of the fortnight could be Annah Mac, whose debut album featured highly in the New Zealand charts this year.

After 25 years Noel Burns will be missed as compere, but let's give the new format a chance.

While remembering the concerts are done on a shoestring. Provided for free.

If people want something radically different the whole structure needs to change. Which might involve fencing off the Soundshell and charging for individual events. With the risk they make a loss. And jeopardise future concerts.

For me the real test is that locals should feel they are missing something if they don't attend. I'm more inclined to think that now than I have been.

The Timaru Herald