ORGANISERS of the Bedale 750 celebrations, due to start in a few weeks' time, hope they can go ahead more or less as planned, despite the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Coun John Weighell, chairman of Bedale 750 and mayor of Bedale, told an open meeting on Tuesday: "We are watching the situation and keeping our fingers and toes crossed. Official advice indicates that so long as we are not in an infected area, we could go ahead with most of the programme."

Coun Weighell, a local farmer, added: "We would obviously take and heed the best possible advice. We may have to play it by ear and modify parts of the festival, but to lose out after four years' hard work would be soul-destroying."

About 30 people attended the meeting for a preview or to help with the summer celebrations marking the 750th anniversary of the granting of Bedale market charter.

Events from spring bank holiday to late Septemer include a festival church service on May 27. A recently-arranged event at Bedale high school on September 28 is an evening with Darren Gough and other cricketers as part of Gough's benefit.

May 29 sees the biggest event, the medieval market and fair, when big crowds are expected in Bedale Hall park for jousting, archery, falcons and other attractions.

The market place will be closed to traffic and a park and ride scheme will operate from Aiskew and Bedale athletic and sports association to the town centre.

The town will be decorated with banners, bunting and hanging baskets. It is hoped traders and people living in the town centre will decorate their houses and wear medieval dress.

Copies of a new Bedale 750 leaflet and car stickers were distributed and tribute was paid to the D&S Times for its support, which includes designing and printing a 40-page colour brochure due out next month.

Total budget for the festival is more than £30,000 from more than 30 sponsors and 60 patrons.

Coun Weighell said there could be a second medieval weekend in mid-August or September, but only if any funds were left.

Several people have responded to his appeal for help with stewarding and catering at various events. Any other volunteers should contact Coun Weighell or any steering group member.