THE Grand Western Canal is celebrating its bicentenary by hosting the IWA National Trailboat Festival later this month.

This annual boating festival belongs to the Inland Waterways Association, but is run by a different canal society or navigation authority somewhere in the UK each year.

The event features dozens of trailed boats, which are towed to the waterway and launched at a slipway.

However, there is also a significant land-based element to the festival, including entertainment and refreshments, aimed at promoting the waterway and engaging local people.The festival will comprise three separate events at different locations along the Canal.

The main event will be the Grand Western 200 festival taking place on Saturday May 24 at the Mid Devon Showground, near Tiverton from 10.30am to 5pm.

Local member for Tiverton and chairman of the organising committee Des Hannon said: "Roll up! Roll up! All the fun of the fair.

“Grab a once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate our Canal's biggest birthday. There's fun for everyone. Bring the kids. This could be a family day out they'll remember forever."

Some 40 colourful boats will be moored along the water’s edge from all over the country, decked out with flags and pennants.

There will be a packed programme of musicians and performers, great local food and real ale and cider bar provided by Hanlon's Brewery.

Visitors will be able to take a trip with a difference aboard one of the last horse-drawn barges in the UK and there will be plenty for all ages to enjoy, including fun fair rides, swing boats, trampolines, craft and trade stalls, children's activities including a mini-beast hunt, face-painting, tin-can alley, lantern-making and much more.

Cabinet Member for Community and Environmental Services, Councillor Roger Croad said: “Last year, the County Council was able to find £3m to make the necessary repairs to the canal and I am very pleased to see that it is now fully open for business and things are getting back to normal.

“I'm sure this event will bring many thousands of visitors to the area and be of enormous benefit, both economically and socially. I wish the festival every success."