THOUSANDS of people descended on Stourbridge yesterday (Sunday July 6) to attend the town’s carnival and first-ever Black Country Festival.
The sun shone on the proceedings, which kicked off at 10.30am with the Stourbridge Carnival Princess Competition - judged by the town’s very own salsa gran Paddy Jones who made it to the finals of Britain’s Got Talent.
Paige Pearson, aged nine, from Quarry Bank, walked away with the Princess crown; while three-year-old Jorgie Daines from Quinton was named winner of the Rosebud title.
Francesca Griffiths, aged five, and Isabella Green, aged eight, were runners up.
The popular pageant was later followed by a traditional parade around the town – ahead of the official opening of the carnival and Black Country Festival by the Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Margaret Aston.
Carnival organiser David Harcourt said he was "delighted" with the interest in this year's 'nations of the world' themed event which included a vintage vehicle display, retro fair, a host of stalls, fun fair rides and performances by dance and martial arts groups.
He added: "I think the diversity of attractions this time made it a little bit more special. "The retro fair in Lower High Street, particularly, drew a lot of interest and a lot of people were delighted to see Paddy Jones."
The Percy Oakley trophy for best entry in the parade once again went to Pedmore's Fantasy Dance Group while Stourbridge Fairtrade group scooped the runner-up award.
Meanwhile all things Black Country were celebrated in the Duke Street/Coventry Street area of the town as part of the Black Country Festival.
There was real ale, street entertainers, live music, performances by Fizzogs theatre group and various themed stalls at the family fun day which was the first of a series of events organised to celebrate the Black Country Festival.
Young people from Brierley Hilll's Y Project also had an art stall at the event where they painted a piece based on the Black Country 's chain-making heritage.
Councillor Pete Lowe, deputy leader of Dudley Council said: “It was great to see so many people coming together to celebrate the place where we live. People are rightly proud of being a part of the Black Country and I am thrilled to see that the community, with support from the council, has managed to put on a festival over the coming weeks.”
Further Black Country Festival events will be held at Wordsley’s Red House Glass Cone starting this Friday (July 11) and in Dudley’s Stone Street Square this Saturday (July 12) ahead of the official Black Country Day on July 14.
The date was chosen as it is the anniversary of the invention of the Newcomen Engine, the world’s first steam engine - created in the Black Country in 1712.
For more information about the festival check out www.blackcountryfestival.co.uk