Olney’s Fiesta Floral Fiesta was conceived in 1965 and the first procession took place in the same year. It soon developed into a popular annual event and proudly celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 1989. The last Floral Fiesta was held in 2006.

An essential feature of the fiesta was a procession, usually lead through the town by a ‘carnival’ band, starting and ending at the recreation field in East street. The route taken by the procession in 1989 is shown in the sketch below.

The Floral Fiesta was run entirely by a voluntary committee, usually 12 to 15 people, with many helpful contributions from friends in the town.

The organising committee selected a different theme for each year. The procession itself comprised mainly lorries of various sizes decorated by a diverse range of local groups to reflect the chosen theme. The procession was supported by individuals, including the ‘local characters’ and the ‘Parade Marshalls’ who entered into the spirit of the theme. The exhibits were judged by local nobility before leaving the recreation ground. On their return a series of demonstrations, events and games were held to entertain the considerable number of townspeople and visitors alike.

1981. Floral Fiesta Queen and Princesses presenting flowers to Cis Elderton for her many years hard work volunteering on the Fiesta committee

The concept of the fiesta was expanded over the years from a one day event on a Saturday to a whole week of events in its later years. Fiesta Saturday and Raft Race Sunday were organised entirely by the Fiesta Committee. Incidentally the annual raft race continues to flourish today (2022) accompanied by a ‘toy duck race’. Extending the Fiesta period to a full week provided a a focus for other organisations in the town to stage their own events, eg: the Lions, Drama Group, Middle School and First School.

The Fiesta was totally self financing with the activities costing around £2,000 each year. New ideas for the Fiesta were continuously sought and implemented where appropriate. A public meeting was held at the end of each summer to elect a new committee and present the accounts for the year.

In terms of integrating newcomers with the existing population, the fiesta is acknowledged to have made a significant, albeit unforeseeable, contribution to Olney’s social history during this period when Olney’s first post WW2 expansion was underway.

This expansion to the town occurred mainly on its western side and to a lesser extent on its eastern side, when in 1989 the population was somewhere between 4000 and 5000. Further information on this expansion is given in ‘A Plan for Olney’ produced by the Borough of Milton Keynes, dated 1979 and covering the period until 1995.

Don’t forget to check out the picture gallery at the end of this webpage.


The 1989 Silver Jubilee Fiesta

The image is of the cover of the Silver Jubilee Souvenir Programme produced for the 1989 Floral Fiesta.

The cover of the 1965-1989 Silver Jubilee
Souvenir Programme

Extracts from the Olney Silver Jubilee Souvenir Programme:

President’s Message

In 1965, Alderman L E Fairey had the idea of a fun day for the People of Olney. He never dreamed that it would flourish as it has. Now in 1989 we celebrate our Silver Jubilee. I was involved right from the start and soon found myself as Secretary. Having been involved over all these these years, here I am as President.

Another full week has been arranged. Do support as many events as you are able. If the sun deems to shine it will be another week to remember.

Signed: (Mrs) Daphne F Tate
Floral Fiesta President

A float reflecting the ‘Silver’ theme at the 1989 Fiesta

Chairman’s Message

At the Fiesta AGM in October 1988, when we were not able to raise a committee, I did not expect to be writing this piece, but as usual the people of Olney rallied round.

We did form a committee and a very strong one. They have all worked very hard the make the 1989 Fiesta, our Silver Jubilee, an even bigger success. We have tried to organise a special week of fun. The theme for 1989 will be Silver & Floral. One of the extra attractions this year will be the Flower Produce and Handicrafts Show. We would like to make this an annual event. Please do support the week’s events in your masses.

Signed: Arthur Chapman – Floral Fiesta Chairman

The Floral Fiesta continued well beyond 1989. I do recall seeing a programme for the year 2006, and suspect that was the last year the Fiesta was held.

I believe it is worthwhile repeating that the Olney Fiesta is acknowledged to have made a significant contribution to Olney’s social history in terms of its ‘unforseeable role’ of assisting the integration of all ages of newcomers with all ages of the existing population.

The RBLWS float depicting Henry and his wives in Olney Floral Fiesta, including Lil Jeffery, Cis Elderton, Daphne Birkett, Audrey Mynard and possibly Mrs George as Henry.


Many thanks are extended to the late Cis Elderton’s daughters Celia and Mary for supplying the information from which this article is compiled.



The pictures in the gallery are presented in random order as there is insufficient information to present them in any other way! We believe that the majority of the photographs were taken by the late Peter Straker who was well known for being a keen photographer of the Olney Fiesta. We also acknowledge Peter’s photographs appearing in the Olney Facebook groups.

Ed Note: Unfortunately the quality of some of the images is not as good as we would like but appear to be alittle better when viewed using a tablet.


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