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Greetings boating folkers, and indeed folking boaters. Once again it is my pleasure to welcome you back to one of the great friendly boutique boot camps of the festival calendar. In order to ring the changes my band The Family Mahone and I have decided to take a sabbatical this year to allow the programme to advance, as none of us want over-familiarity to breed contempt do we?

And so throw yourselves into the music, the pubs, the atmosphere - but not the Big Lock itself as you will get a mouthful of something that is better not taken internally.

I look forward to seeing you revelling and reeling around the town and expect to be bought drinks as a thankyou for not subjecting you to our ramshackle rantings this year.

Welcome back Middlewichers old and new. Let the carnival begin!

Mark Radcliffe