A PARTY atmosphere has spread through Wantage today as residents come out in force for the town's annual carnival.

The Market Place is buzzing with activity as hundreds of people take advantage of the good weather to enjoy live music, dancing and refreshments until 7pm.

Businesses and charities from across Oxfordshire have formed a ring of stalls circling a funfair, in an event that offered something for everyone.

All proceeds go to The Ray Collins Charitable Trust, which helps good causes in the Wantage area through donations and volunteering.

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Mr Collins organised the carnival and has been pleased with the turnout today.

He said: "It's the sort of town that if you put on a community event with nice weather then they'll come out.

"You don't get many family fun days anymore as everybody's inside playing computer games, so it's nice to have an old-fashioned day of fun.

"A lot of it is about the kids and creating a bit of atmosphere and having fun.

"We've always billed it as a family day out. All ages can come out and enjoy it."

The charity has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the community over the years and Mr Collins, 49, revealed this has benefited the carnival too.

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He said: "Everyone here is local, that's the beauty of it.

"Now we're a registered charity everyone wants to support us, as they know every pound we raise goes back to them."

The crowds began to gather shortly after 11am, with Sue Randell and Debbie Poole, both from Wantage, among those to arrive early.

Ms Poole's son was one of dozens of scouts in the parade, while Ms Randell supports the charity.

She said: "The carnival is great for the community and so much effort goes into it."

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The parade started from The Beacon and did two laps of the Market Place, led by Wantage mayor, Jim Sibbald, and town crier Dave Richardson.

It was the event's biggest ever parade and involved many of the acts performing throughout today.

The mayor and town crier declared the event open at 12.20, before making their way around the stalls.

Mr Sibbald said: "Wantage is a very artistic area. It's patriotic and artistic and it's a very enjoyable and friendly town. It's a privilege to be its mayor."

Mr Richardson added: "The great thing is it's a very open, friendly atmosphere as always- and Ray booked the weather, yet again."

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Wantage Silver Band, The Oxfordshire Rock Choir, The Maher School of Irish Dance and The American Dance School are all performing during this afternoon.

Today marks the latter's second anniversary, with the King Alfred's Academy-based dance school now boasting more than 100 people from two-year-olds to adults, plus several regional and national awards.

Live music comes from The Undercovers and Didcot-based band, CU Tuesday, who are headlining the event at 5pm.