22 March 2006

Sandhurst Donkey Derby

After the operations meeting last night I dropped in on a meeting for the Donkey Derby. It had started at 8pm so it had been going for a while by the time I arrived.

The Donkey Derby is a big deal in the community. It is an old fashioned local fete with donkey racing and plenty of stalls. It attracts about 7000 visitors during the day and it raises large sums for local charities. It's getting harder to organise it every year and certainly harder to raise the money for charity. Part of the problem is that the legislation for events like this places financial and organisational demands on the organisers which have to be met somehow.

Obviously no-one wants anyone to suffer discomfort or injury as a result of the Donkey Derby, and despite all those visitors over 40 years, the number of real problems have been very minor. It can't have been the intention of the legislation to drive these kind of events out of the calendar, but that's been the effect. As a country, we are carrying out a social experiment in denuding communities of highly enjoyable, basically safe activities. The latest to go was the fireworks display. The loss of an organised firework display is not a major upheaval, but as part of an overall trend it represents a sanitisation of local life.

I think that these kind of things are important - they represent a kind of social glue and it would be a tragedy if they were all to disappear.


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