About the 2017 Stow Cotswold Festival
2017 Stow Cotswold Festival has crowds flocking to the Square
The 2017 Stow Cotswold Festival was a great success despite a rainy start to the day. It got off to a flying start as the Town Crier announced the arrival of the mayor, Ben Eddolls, to open the festival. He was due to arrive in his mayoral white Rolls Royce and great applause greeted him as he swept into the Square in a white Robin Reliant with a Rolls Royce grille sellotaped to the front. His chauffeuse for the day was town councillor Jo Davies who entered into the spirit of the event in a uniform that included fishnet tights.
This biennial event, whose theme was ‘a celebration of Cotswold life, crafts and heritage’ gave visitors the chance to sample traditional Cotswolds crafts and skills at close quarters.
With Stow’s close links with sheep and the wool trade, it was good to see some Cotswold Lion sheep back in the Square, kindly provided by Mel and Jonty Brunyee from their rare breeds collection at Conygree Farm, Aldsworth. Festival-goers were able to follow the journey of the fleece from one of these sheep, seeing the wool spun and then woven by Northleach Spinners and Weavers in St. Edward’s Hall. Also in the hall were other displays of crafts including some excellent crewel work from local expert Barbara Banning, felting with Lynne Rixon, handweaving demonstrations from Cirencester based Rebecca Connolly and the St. Edward’s Knit and Chat group. Stow Primary School was also displaying a flock of pottery sheep money boxes from the ‘decorate a sheep’ competition run by the Stow Civic Society. History lovers could investigate some of the Civil War relics whilst looking at the unique timeline of Stow’s history.
Meanwhile, out in the Square, cute Cotswold alpacas rubbed shoulders with the sheep and the Cotswold Falconry centre gave visitors the chance to take photographs whilst handling their birds of prey. Other skills included a showcase drystone walling demonstration by the Cotswold Conservation Board and some excellent green wood working from, appropriately named, Charles Ash of TouchWood Crafts. Helen Munday displayed her skilful art of willow weaving and basket making whilst the North Cotswold Beekeepers Association had an observation hide on display.
Youngsters and families were well catered for with activities including a treasure hunt, Punch and Judy shows, guess the monkey’s birthday, face painting and fairground rides plus a wealth of games run by Stow Primary’s parents’ association including a penny trail to complete outlines of fluffy sheep and making a woollen teepee.
Retail therapy was well catered for with a lively market of some 40 stalls offering a range of food, gifts and crafts. There was also the festival’s biggest fundraiser, the giant charity tombola, where some superb prizes were on offer, donated by local businesses and residents. With every entry winning a prize you couldn’t go wrong.
Other attractions included a climb up St Edward’s Church tower to give a bird’s eye view of the festival and the stunning Cotswold countryside plus a medieval Trading Standards re-enactment by members of the Alcester Court Leet who kept visitors healthy by testing local ales, pies, bread and leather goods.
Live entertainment was provided all day in the arena, introduced by Ken Brightwell, the local Town Crier. Acts included the Cotswold School Band, a Gospel choir, a steel band, Zumba and Salsa demonstrations, topped off by fire-eating escapologist circus act, John Hayns. The entertainment and dancing in the Square went on well into the night to a huge crowd with a great session by Cheltenham based covers band, Monkey Jam. A tired Dave Wiblin, Festival Chairman, said “It was nice to see local businesses spilling out onto the Square and I think we achieved our objective of giving everyone a day to remember”.
The chosen charities this year were Kate’s Home Nursing, the Great Western Air Ambulance and Stow Primary School. They will each receive a cheque for £1,100.
Look out for the next festival on Saturday 20th July 2019.