So after coming to the Folk Festival for 12 years now and loving every minute, this year I got to have a ‘bit part’ in the main event! It amazes me still that so many people who are fairly local, have never been! Maybe they think because they’re not into Folk music, it isn’t relevant to them? Well as someone that’s more into Heavy Metal than Folk, I can tell you that it’s all about the atmosphere for many!
The streets are pedestrianised for the weekend, stalls line the streets, charities sell their wares on the Minster Green and there are stages dotted about as frequently as fountains in Rome! Every corner turned has a new, funny, quirky, odd, loud and/or (slightly) scary act or dance going on – right there in the middle of the road!
It may be a little puzzling that people of all ages dress up in the bizarre outfits that they do – clogs, bells, sticks, knives, guns and much, much more; that they dance and squeal whilst the crowds clap along (or stare in bewilderment), but regardless of the fact that we don’t know what to make of it – you can’t help but smile!
The atmosphere in the town is just all round jolly – at least during the day time when I venture out! I gather it’s a bit more grown up at night time when the live bands, pubs and drinkers take over. But certainly during the day, it’s all about the family – prams and dogs in abundance (although it’s a struggle with a double buggy – tried that one year, not a stress free experience)!!
The day started for me at 11:30hrs when I greeted Civic Dignitaries at the Town Hall for a photo shoot and for a member of the Militia to give the history of the Physic garden – including how Bob Geldof did a planting there when he was performing at the Tivoli. It was later visited by the Duke and Duchess of Wessex. He explained the medicinal value of many of the plants there.
I then moved on to support my charities for a while. Firstly at Radio Wimborne, stopping off at the studio to do a quick interview. Then to my charity stalls on the Minster Green for a while – a few drops of rain appeared at this point, I imagine there were a few nervous people around at this time (weather the dreaded unknown factor of any outside event)!
Then at 14:30hrs and this year being Mayor, I had the honour of leading THE parade that starts at Carnival Flowers in East Street and meanders down through to the High Street and into the Square. The Militia who start the parade each year with a firing, kindly gave me a new set of special acoustic ear plugs as I really don’t like loud bangs. They did help although I still jumped out of my skin!
We walked quite slowly and waved to all the lovely people sitting and standing on the pavements. I saw a few people that I knew along the way. The problem with being at the front is that you can’t enjoy all the acts that are doing ‘their thing’ behind you – however they’d thought of that this year. When myself and the other Civic dignitaries that fronted the parade reached the Square – there was a podium set up for us to wait and watch all of the acts go past – this was a brilliant idea and the highlight of the day for me. I was able to nip my phone of of my robes and take a few pics myself!
The Militia were excellent body guards – much needed in such a busy crowd! Next stop the Priest’s House Museum to have tea and cake with the Civic Dignitaries before they headed off back to their own corners of Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset! Whilst there, I visited the Tibetan Monks doing a Mandala – it was totally fascinating – after 5 days of creating a beautiful piece of art from crushed coloured marble, they sweep up the ‘dust’ or ‘sands’ which represents how transient life it. They put some of the dust into the River Allen on Sunday afternoon which they do traditionally wherever they travel around the world.
After a glass of Prosecco at Bells Fish stall – which looked amazing in the High Street car park amongst all of the micro brewery stalls and live music, I de-robed and became anonymous in town again! I was thoroughly shattered at the end of the day but it was all worth it – next year I’ll be hustling for a bit of pavement again – but what memories!