Saturday, 6 May 2017

Sweeps Festival 2017

We are based in a group of small towns but collectively we are a historic area; in celebrating this we usually have festivals placed throughout the year. The Sweeps festival is always a family favourite as it incorporates education, fun and family togetherness.

As a child there was rarely a year that either my parents or my aunt didn't take us to it. I always remember being transfixed on all of the different dancers that were there. Each seemed to have a little individual twist to make them different.

The modern day Sweeps Festival is a colourful mix of music, dancing and entertainment with more than 60 Morris and Folk dancers as well as general entertainers celebrating throughout the three-day festival.

The festival recreates the joy and laughter enjoyed by the chimney sweeps community and the one time of the year that they would leave the soot behind and have some fun. It seemed that this yearly event has passed down through the decades to be an event that we all enjoy.
So much fun to be had even if a rather busy!

Last year we went and I will be honest and say that I struggled a bit with it. The walking was difficult as the festival is stretched across the town in different places. If you then add the feature that there are literally hundreds of people walking and watching then it became a bit of a deadly activity for me!

Learning from my mistake last year we took my mobility scooter this time with the hope that it would save my legs the pain and help run over the odd person who got in our way too! We also planned and met the lovely Laura from Autumn's Mummy, her other half Dave and little Autumn. Which was lovely to have another local blogger but made me think I best not tire myself and use my scooter; something I am pleased I did.

The only thing we had to avoid was the weather! It was on and off rain and when it was on we would get drenched!

Throughout the day you will find several different Morris groups lining the streets performing. The array of the groups is always amazing; each group is usually equipped with specific colours and styles from black and gothic to steam punk and even some brightly coloured groups! It is meant to be the largest gathering of Morris dancers in the world.

Along with the festivities on the street you also had a vast selection of local companies and produce. Just like last week at the English festival the quality of stall available were amazing! We also bumped into a few regular faces!

One of the first stalls we bumped into was Joanne's Preserves who offer a range of Jams, Marmalades, Jellies and Pickles.

Then not too far were the lovely guys at The chocolate hut who offer a range of baked goodies!

I went for a slice of millionaire shortbread this time! It was delicious.

We also bumped into the lovely people at SimpleTrue Treasure who have lots of semi precious bracelets and necklaces all with their meaning cards. Also individually made adult necklaces, as well as lots of bracelets and earrings.  For the children lots of ‘Fairy Dust’ necklaces, charm bracelets and our famous £1 Lucky Dip, with all prizes handmade; the boys took advantage of this and grabbed a lucky dip an got a skull and cross-bones necklace!

And finally for the food, we came across the fantastic guys at The Giggly Pig who offered a range of different flavoured sausage products. They were also running a stall to grab some cooked lunch with!

Along with the dancers and groups along the high street and the wonderful stalls there were little corners that came alive with joyful festival fun!

From colourful pianos dotted around for people to play


And, people within the community joining in even when they are not part of the days events.

Up on the castle grounds you could find live music, more stalls and a funfair.

Most of the rides, as expected, were over priced and had queues of around 15 minutes. I have to admit that to muddle our way through without the boys wanting to go on every single ride was difficult but they understood that they couldn't do everything.

The boys were all about the hats!

We also bumped into the drink companies like Copper Rivet Distillery who produce, Gin, Vodka and Malt and Goody Ales again!

To finish the day off there is usually a procession along the high street! William was keen to get at the front with James so armed with my phone and the camera they watched and took some amazing photos!

As you can see from Williams photos there is so much to see and everyone, young and old join in to celebrate this yearly custom.

For me the community spirit is my favourite part. You get everyone willing to help and support each other, local businesses joining together to create a wonderful experience, music and bands, great food and drink and the opportunity to sit together and just soak up the atmosphere.

This will always be one of our favourite events of the year and despite the heavy rain they weather held off just enough to make it a lovely day. There are usually a lot of different events available locally and this year marks a few very special ones to be held, which I am sure you will see and hear about very soon!

If you are local and you love the sound of this then come along to the Dickens festival in June!

1 comment:

Natalie Ray said...

Wow, the boys do take incredible photos! I think they need to take over from you as chief blog photographers! We also went to watch Morris dancing over the long weekend and it was fabulous. This sounds like a great day out.