IF IT wasn’t for the Covid-19 pandemic Shaftesbury would be filled with festivities, parades and colour this weekend with the return of Shaftesbury Carnival.

Now a harvest market, which was scheduled for Sunday and wanted to demonstrate “a little bit of normality returning”, has also been cancelled, following the most recent changes in Covid-19 measures.

Organised by the Shaftesbury and District Chamber of Commerce and the Anonymous Travelling Market, the plan for the event was to mix town favourites including Shaftesbury Food Festival, Gold Hill Fair and the local Fringe Festival.

“The idea [for the harvest market] started last year, we thought it would be lovely to have a market after carnival as it is a highlight of the year, and it is a shame for that spirit and celebration to fall flat on the Sunday,” said chairperson of the chamber, Virginia Edwyn-Jones.

She added: “With the carnival sensibly cancelled, we hoped restrictions would allow us to have this market. The [carnival] committee was excited and it was just a focus and something to be excited about, a little bit of normality returning.”

The harvest market was to follow the success of similar events held in Trowbridge, which had Covid-secure measures in place including a one-way system and hand sanitiser stations, as well as the weekly market in Shaftesbury’s High Street.

Virginia said that the harvest market plans were “thrown” by the latest Covid-19 legislation, including the Rule of Six and changes to mask wearing and the hospitality sector.

With around 50 stalls planned to sell produce this weekend, the event needed approval from Shaftesbury Town Council to expand into Park Walk to enable more room and social distancing, but the use of this space was not permitted.

Virginia added: “If we could not use Park Walk it just could not go ahead, and it’s completely understandable for the council to err on the side of caution.

“If people were not sensible there could be too many people through walkways at once. We want people to feel safe and calm and know that their health is taken care of, but there is no point doing it if people feel nervous and aren’t happy, we need to be sensible.

“It is the right thing to do, we just need to be positive and use this time to think about and plan future things.”

Shaftesbury Carnival will be returning on October 2 next year.