Report on March Summer Festival 2011

SINGING IN THE RAIN

The rain didn't dampen the spirits of the March Summer Festival audience who bravely turned out for the finale concert by the RAF Wyton Voluntary Band on Sunday.

Thousands of people had come to the park to enjoy the entertainments over the weekend including the Gala, the fairground rides, the children's activities and the stage events.

The March Summer Festival opened on Friday evening with 'Rock in the Park' sponsored by the Co-op, and 16 year old Jana Metcalfe from Chatteris performing an acoustic set of her own very moving songs, followed by some lively performances by Hindsight, The Polymers, Death Radio, Social Status and Emcoil. The audience was slightly down on last year but still very lively with lots of “moshing” in the mosh pit in front of the newly constructed MOJO type barriers!

Saturday dawned bright and sunny for the March Lions Gala, co-ordinated by Graham Litchfield, and the park filled with people to enjoy the delights of the many local charity and car boot stalls, funfair rides and other attractions. Just after midday, thousands of people lined the streets to watch the Gala Parade, organised by Reg Kemp and led by the Cambridgeshire Caledonian Pipe Band, followed by the Gala Princess Olivia Carpenter and her Attendant Lucie Cross (sponsored by March Lions and the Fenland Citizen), and the Mayor of March Cllr Bernard Keane and his wife Sylvia. Also taking part were the Fenland Youth Theatre, Farcet Twist and Twirl Majorettes, Vivien the vintage fire engine (sponsored by former Mayoress Patsy Brewin),the Arco Iris Samba Band, the Bernese Mountain Dogs and the many other local groups and individuals.

Back at West End Park, the event was opened by the Mayor, Cllr Bernard Keane and presentations were made to the winners of the parade The Skoulding Trophy to the Best Group – Sarah's Street Style Dance and the Mallett Trophy for best individual Alan Kepton, looking uncannily like Winston Churchill!

The Fancy Dress competition then took place, judged by Sylvia Keane as Patsy Brewin was poorly. Prizes were presented to Lyla Fuller as Miss Great Britain, Joshua Wilding as Friar Tuck and Sae-arna and Lauren Crane as the Oompa-Loompas. Record crowds had gathered by this time in front of the open air stage to watch the afternoon perfomances by the ever popular Lisa Dickinson's Dance Mania, Fenland Has Talent winner Oli Griffen, Sarah's Street Style Dancers, and duo Tom Harlock and Aimee Peart-Webb.

As the afternoon turned into evening and the Gala Stalls closed down, thousands of people continued to sit in front of the stage to enjoy ' 'Pop in the Park' with some wonderful first appearances at the festival by Crash 'n' Burn, the DUDI crew and the Bare Bones Boogie Band.

On Sunday morning the weather was damp for the 'Picnic in the Park' (Sponsored by the Co-Op) but not enough to stop people coming along to enjoy the delights of March Brass 2000 and Fenjazz. They were followed by skilful acoustic sets by Strangeworld and Bondy. By this time the audience was at its smallest as by this time it was raining quite heavily. During the afternoon the rain did not however stop the children from enthusiastically taking part in the circus skills workshop with clown Adrian Ley, colouring competition with Penny Hicks and listening to stories told by Cambridge Storyteller Malcolm Busby (sponsored by Spectacular Opticians).

Malcolm and Adrian also judged the colouring competition which was won by Keira Gamble (first) and Alfie Sheriff (runner up) in the Under 7 category, Luke Glover (first) and Siobhan Haliday (runner up) 8-10 year olds and Autumn Wilding (first) and Carrigan Asher (runner up) for over 11. Winners received Tatty Teddys and sweets sponsored by Greetings and Carte Blanche.

Sunday evening saw the rain easing slightly and the concert by the RAF Wyton Voluntary Band went ahead as planned, but with a reduced set and no interval.  Organisers said that “after 11 years of glorious weather we have been very lucky. A decision was made to go ahead with the concert despite the wind and rain and a small valiant group of people attended to wave their flags and join in the rousing choruses of Land of Hope and Glory, Jerusalem and Rule Britannia, with the band.” The March Summer Festival Committee have promised that next year plans will be put in place for a wet weather venue for the finale concert so that festival goers do not have to do their singing in the rain!

During the evening the Grand prize draw took place. Winners were as follows: J Darwood (Weekend Break at a Wetherspoons Hotel); D Gilbody (Meal for 4 at the Hippodrome); Mr & Mrs B Friend (£50 Wrights Tool Hire Voucher); A Dudley (UK Towbars – two bar mounted cycle carrier);M Naughton (2 meals at Ye Olde Griffin); J McAlister (meal for 2 at the Shah Jahan); P Stocks (carvery meal for 2 at Cassano's); Daniel M (carvery meal at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel);  L Trueman (£30 voucher for The Ship); L Fuller (£20 Stardust voucher); M Greenall (meal for 2 at The Stars); M Lazdina (Chet Baker CD from WMS Music).

The March Summer Festival Committee would also like to thank John Whitehead (the MC); the stallholders, the parade participants and the numerous volunteers who helped run the event and local businesses who have given help and sponsorship, including The Oliver Cromwell Hotel for providing refreshments. They would also like to say that help is always welcome for future festivals and if you would like to do so, please get in touch via Clive Lemmon at the Town Hall on March 653709.

The March Summer Festival is made possible by grants from March Town Council, Fenland District Council and PRS for Music. This year we once again received generous sponsorship from Next Steps Community Care, Secure Design and Ridgeons. A large selection of festival photographs, taken by Charles David Photography can be found via the following link http://www.charlesdavidphotography.co.uk/marchfestival2011.htm