A BEAR costume prompted genuine concerns by an animal-lover that organisers behind the Chester Roman Festival (June 4-5) might be being cruel.
The complainant had spotted a photo on a leaflet promoting the festival showing the bear, AKA Roman Tours co-ordinator Paul Harston, being ‘tormented’ by his 10-year-old daughter Brianna.
Paul said the MBNA Chestival booking office had received an email from someone unclear as to whether the bear was real or not, but saying that if it was, they would not be coming along.
The festival, which takes place at the amphitheatre and Grosvenor Park, also includes a Roman military parade through the city in full armour.
The bear, which is accompanied by a recording of a roaring beast, features in a reenactment in which two people have been savaged by it and Brianna is trying to get the animal out of the arena ready for the next show.
Paul, from Caergwrle, Wrexham, whose wife Charlene and son Cellan, 15, also take part in the reconstructions, added: “It’s a very realistic costume. The point is it should make people think it’s real, even for a fleeting moment.”
But he insisted: “No animals are harmed in the making of this whatsoever!”
Back in Roman times, the killing of beasts in staged fights would have reinforced belief in man’s domination over nature – important in a world where wild animals still posed a threat.
Bears, stags, bulls and boars would have been found in British amphitheatres rather than the lions and elephants seen in Rome. They were captured by civilian hunters or specialised detachments of soldiers.
Events close at 5pm on the Saturday and 6pm on the Sunday.
See pages 46 and 54 in The Guide for more on the MBNA Chestival.