Stow Cotswold Festival – Saturday 20th July 2019
Crowds flock to the best festival in the Cotswolds …….. Baaaaa none
The town crier announced the arrival of the mayor, Ben Eddolls, who officially opened the Stow Cotswold Festival at 11am on Saturday 20th July. 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 wonderful to see some Cotswold Lion sheep back in the Square, kindly provided by Rob Harvey Long from his Pickwick Cotswold Sheep flock. Alongside the sheep there were very photogenic alpacas that were born and raised in the Cotswolds and a carrot- loving pony called Ted. On display nearby were Matthew Potts with his forge, Shipston Beekeepers with an observation hive and honey for sale, and Jane Sherwood demonstrating the skilful art of willow weaving. Herbologist Sarah Head was also on hand to give advice on the use of herbs with a ‘Kitchen herbwife’ display.
Festival-goers were able to follow the journey of a fleece, seeing the wool spun and woven by the Northleach Spinners and Weavers in St. Edward’s Hall. There were excellent demonstrations by the St. Edward’s Closely Knit group, the Stow Embroiders Guild and handweaving by Cirencester-based Rebecca Connolly. Other displays in the hall included felting, glass enamelling and silk flower making.
Youngsters and families were well catered for with activities including Punch and Judy shows, face painting and fairground rides, plus a wealth of games run by local schools, Stow Primary Parents’ Association and the Friends of Lower Swell School.
There was 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, which had superb prizes on offer, donated by local businesses and residents. With every entry winning a prize you couldn’t go wrong.
Other attractions included the opportunity to climb up St Edward’s Church tower to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the festival and the stunning Cotswold countryside. The Stow firefighters turned up with their fire engine and were very popular, allowing visitors to clamber in and out of the cab, try on uniforms and inspect the equipment used.
Live entertainment was provided all day in the arena, introduced by Ken Brightwell, the local Town Crier. Acts included the Blockley Brass Band, the Cotswold Male Voice Choir, youngsters from the Corinium Guitar Ensemble and local jazz band Paige and the Red Shift, topped off by fire-eating escapologist circus act, John Hayns. The biggest audience in the arena was for the 40 strong troupe of dancers from the Icknield Way and Kennet Morris Men. It was their 60th Anniversary and a fitting setting for them.
The entertainment and dancing in the Square went on well into the night with a huge crowd enthusiastically enjoying 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 the Stow Disability Group, Stow Alms House Trust and the Stow Community and Family Hub who each receive a cheque for £1,700. The Sam Pilcher Trust, once again, did a grand job of manning the Festival car park and raised £1,090 for their charity.
Look out for the next festival on Saturday 17th July 2021.