As 2019 an indeed this decade closes, The Team wanted to submit a review of the work and improvements that have been undertaken in the town centre during the year.
We started the year off by planning and working out a diary of events, markets and project deadlines we wanted to work towards. The team came up with an ambitious plan which included more events in Caldicot that we have previously managed and wanted to ensure that all of these were a great success. By the end of the year however, we had wondered if we had bitten off more than we could chew!
Specialised markets that we had run previously such as our garden market and our vintage market were difficult to be successful, mainly because we choose such niche market styles that there wasn’t enough traders within the local area to be able to provide a wide enough variety with a number of traders. We decided that we would theme the markets around the seasons, with a couple of extra put in to ensure there was something taking place at least monthly, which we felt opened us up to a much wider range of traders. With increased social media presence, including groups, we were able to well exceed our previous years market trader numbers and bring dozens of brand new traders to Caldicot. Throughout the year we saw an increase in not just market traders, but also in footfall and also in feedback from local businesses that trade had also increased in their shops, which for us to hear is fantastic news and proved to us that we were on the right track with our aims and responsibilities.
Our annual Street Feast events are becoming bigger and better each year, with two events held in 2019 it is a fantastic sight to stand in Caldicot town centre at 8pm on a friday night and see hundreds of members of the public enjoying live music, good food and having a relaxed but enjoyable night out. As some of you will already know from our accounts, our Street Feast events have never made a profit, and costs us around £500 a year to run, however, it is very important to point out that profit is not the only element we work towards in our goals, its also about social inclusion, community spirit and the local economy. Indeed, shops such as Bargain Booze and Clarkes Butchers make a considerable profit on these evenings, with some takings up almost £1,000 over other standard Friday nights. Fratelli’s are another local business that do very well out of the evenings as well as the local takeaways, who normal are closed during most of our other events, so its great to be able to provide something that almost all businesses can take advantage of during the year.
Our Family Fun Day is always a popular event, especially the dinosaur shows taking place throughout the day. This year we were lucky enough to be able to make use of empty retail premises to be able to provide an Aardman Animation workshop as well as a fairy princess stage and photo opportunities. This year was no exception to other years and provided local families, including visitors from Bristol and Cwmbran the chance to have a low cost outing, filled with fun, laughter, free entertainment, such as a balloon modeller and Dinosaur show and much more. Local community groups and organisations were also invited to take part in out display arena, and again, young people stole the show with amazing performances.
Our 999 Day down in Caldicot Castle takes a lot of work from the team in organising, as you can imagine, with all emergency services being stretched not just by funding but by personell as well it is difficult to speak and arrange attendance from the teams that help make the event the success that it is. Work starts on this event in January and usually is still being planned with confirmation of attendees in the week up to the event. The team working on the 999 Day are dedicated to bringing in as many of the services as possible and provide something different each year.
Our biggest and most complex ever by far is Hoggin The Bridge, This event takes an entire year to plan and execute, with lots of obstacles to overcome and lots of last minute plan changes. We have a whole team dedicated just to Hoggin The Bridge, who together represent over 45 years of Motorbike club membership! This year was our most ambitious yet, with a 3 day weekend held at David Broome Event Centre including a night of Comedy in our Comedy Barn, an evening with The Brotherhood Band and then the main ride finishing off with an epic stunt show from Jamie Squibb Freestyle FMX. Unfortunately and heartbreakingly for the team, the bad weather and torrential rain in the lead up to the weekend almost entirely decimated the event, numbers were seriously lower than in previously years, back to when the ride took place in Chepstow. From our social media communications it seemed that it was indeed the bad weather that put most people off. However, for those who did brave the elements, the weekend was throughly enjoyable. The comedians were a fantastic addition and the live music went down fantastically with the audience, in part due to the bands enthusiasm throughout the night. The stunt show was spectacular and helped to keep the crowds at the event slightly longer, which was intended by the team.
Both the Winter and Christmas Markets saw more market traders than ever before wanted to attend, our Christmas market hit 50 traders, the biggest market we have ever held. Luckily we were able to again utilise an empty premises which gave a wonderful buzz as our ‘Market Hall’ With Father Christmas on site thanks to Caldicot 2nd Scouts and free mince pies donated by Waitrose, the event had a great deal of footfall and was a great place to visit during the day.
To sum up 2019, we are overall very pleased with the progress we have made. We are now no longer funded by Section 106 funding, meaning that we are now entirely self sustainable. For us, it gives us greater flexibility in what events and projects we can invest time and money in for the benefit of the town and its businesses and public. It also gives us the added benefit of being able to apply for specific funding streams from grant companies and organisations for specific projects.
Work has started on the most ambitious regeneration project in Caldicot since the 1980’s which we are a proud to have played a big part in. Along with your input, the plans have received approval from Welsh Government over the form of the next few years. Work has begun on Caldicot Cross to improve the linkages and visibility from Caldicot Castle and Chepstow Road. We will keep you fully informed of updates to the rest of the phases as we receive information.
As the team look toward 2020 we are keenly aware that there is a shift within our community about the benefits of shopping locally and staying locally and we are planning our year based around improving what we have currently, and the new businesses we may be able to attract to Caldicot. We are immensely proud to be hosting a VE 75 Day Celebration Street Party on Friday 8th May (A Bank Holiday) and will be providing much more information regarding this over the next 6 weeks or so.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who has supported us, visited our markets, shopped locally, attended one or more of our events, donated time or items to us and volunteered their own time to help us make Caldicot a better place to work, live and play.
See you in 2020!