Report on March Summer Festival 2016

Plenty to do on a wet weekend!

Another changeable weekend did not stop the people of March from coming out of their homes to celebrate the seventeenth March Summer Festival.

Throughout the weekend of 10 -12 June thousands of people gathered along the High Street and Broad Street for the Gala Parade with Classic Vehicles, floats and walkers; in West End Park to enjoy a wide selection of music and dance and a varied selection of stalls and amusements in the Lions Gala and enjoyed family oriented activities at the Picnic in the Park.

The weekend survived the absence of Maureen James, the event manager, who fell off her bike and broke her wrist on Friday afternoon and Stuart Broad, her husband and festival stage manager, who left the park to keep her company in Peterborough General Hospital. Stephanie Hare, assistant event manager ably stepped in to keep control of the festival and Rodney Crabb took over back stage. The March Summer Festival Committee are grateful to everyone - the stewards, stage crew and other helpers who called on their years of experience to enable the event to run smoothly.

The festival kicked off with 'Rock in the Park', and the bizarre sounds of Poncho Pilots; the punk vibes of Damaged; melodic hardcore of That Night Forests Grew and finally the crowd pleasing rock-reggae band Tree House Fire. The whole evening was MC’d by Adam 'Hampy' Hamilton with lighting for the weekend provided by Jonathan Darwood of JD Technical and sound by the crew from K-Tech Music Services.

Thousands of people lined the streets on Saturday to watch the parade, once again led by Vivien the Fire Engine followed by about 100 vintage cars and motorbikes (organised by Ray Howes); the Gala Princess Hollie Cawthorne  in a horse-drawn carriage provided by George Sharman; the Mayor Andrew Donnelly in a Triumph Stag driven by Mark Vawser; and a number of local groups, some dressed for the theme of Top of the Pops, walking behind.

Back in West End Park, the Gala was officially opened by the March Lions President, Ian Groome, along with the Mayor and Bernard and Sylvia Keane who both served as Summer Festival committee members since its foundation. The presentation of the trophies to the winners in the Parade by John Elworthy of the Cambs Times then took place. The winners were Fossils Galore (Mallett Trophy for Best in Parade) and Dance Mania (Skoulding Trophy for Best Group). Bruce Smith then presented trophies for the best vehicle in the Classic Car Parade to Roger Newark of Doddington for his Ford Van ‘with cakes’ and the best car in the Classic Car Parade to Peter Keatley of Whittlesey for his 1947 Rover 10.

The Fancy Dress competition judged by Johnny Dee of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
then took place, with prizes for both winners and runners-up, donated by Boyes and The Toy Box awarded to Leah Barnes as Madonna; Holly Andrews as Amy Winehouse; Kirsty as Man/Woman; Sharon Shepherd as Ginger Spice and Colin Andrews as Alice Cooper. Leah also received the Patsy Brewin Cup for her efforts.

After the presentations the enormous crowd were entertained in turn by Lisa Dickinson’s Dance Mania, The Casey Academy Of Irish Dancing and Neale Wade BTEC Students.
Those that were not gathered in front of the outdoor stage took the opportunity to wander around the many gala stalls, view the lovingly preserved classic cars at the far end of the park, or enjoy the fairground rides.

When the gala wound to a close, well over a thousand people stayed for Pop in the Park with performances by folk rock group Something Nasty in the Woodshed; local favourites The Supergroup (a combination of Mind the Gap and Whiskey Twist), and the acclaimed 1960s tribute band The 6Ts.

The park was once again the venue for 'Picnic in the Park' on Sunday and for the fun dog show organised by Samantha Laws of Doggy Styling. More than 120 ‘pampered pooches’ took part in the show which included 14 categories. Best in show was awarded to Lucy Smith and her three rescue dogs Shepp, Maisy and Honey who also came first in the happy family class.
Over by the bandstand families were being kept busy with face painting by Hayley Dolbear; circus skills with Adrian Ley; nature activities with the Friends of Rings End Nature Reserve; vegetable themed activities and a show by Madame Zucchini (aka Natalie Hunt) and the popular colouring competition with Penny Hicks.

The entries for the colouring competition were judged by Madame Zucchini and prizes (donated by Greetings and Boyes), were awarded to Biadrix and Lily Hankey-Scott (Under 8 category); Abbie O’Mahoney and Rowan Ley (8 – 11 year old) and Amber Freshwater and Zac Lilley (12 and over). Special commendation prizes, donated by Penny Hicks were also awarded to Reece Simpson, Rebekah Satish, Hannah Riches and James...

Throughout Sunday afternoon, the weather was changeable but it did not dampen the spirits of the few hundred people watching the on-stage entertainment by the talented Fenland Youth Swing Band; popular local duo Back Two; award-winning MADAOS; the mellow sounds of Ivan Garford & Jazz Odyssey and lively covers band Catch 22. The sky remained cloudy but a couple of hundred people braved the weather for the rousing finale concert by Alan Norris Big Band.

During the evening the winners of the 30 amazing prizes of the Grand Draw were selected.

Winners were as follows:

  •     Robert Bulpin (A day out in a Narrow Boat for 10 people from Fox Narrowboats);
  •     Kevin Sparrow  (An acrylic 3D deer head from 3B Design and Print);
  •     Trevor Quince (£50 Holiday voucher for Holiday with Us);
  •     Bob Cave (£50 voucher for Wrights Tools);
  •     Andre Whitby (£30 voucher for Once upon a Cake);
  •     G Knight (£25 voucher for March Quality Meats);
  •     M Larham (£20 voucher for Harmony Hair Studio);
  •     Janet Darwood (£20 voucher for Stardust);
  •     Liesa Cox (£20 voucher for The Spicebank);
  •     P Roberts (Sunday lunch for 2 at Pete’s Restaurant - the Oliver Cromwell Hotel);
  •     Martin Calvert (Sunday lunch for 2 at Cassano’s);
  •     Murton (lunch for 2 at Ye Olde Griffin Hotel);
  •     Kevin Sparrow (fish supper for 2 at Stotts Fish Restaurant);
  •     C Shields (fish supper for 2 at Snappers Fish Restaurant);
  •     Louise Sutton-Webb (lunch for 2 at The Hippodrome);
  •     Michele Hadfield (meal for 2);
  •     Susanne Vawser (5 coffees at Costa Coffee);
  •     Becky Smith (2 gym memberships from the Oliver Cromwell Hotel);
  •     Ritha Nimalan, Martin Calvert, Julia Parker, Jo O’Neill (gym memberships for the George Campbell Leisure Centre);
  •     Grace Bridgement (2 large pizzas from Domino’s);
  •     Jane Barry (a 2 bike cycle carrier from UK Towbars Ltd);
  •     Bob Cave (£10 voucher from Outer Rim Toys & Models);
  •     Martin Talmage (£7.50 voucher from Coldham Fruit;
  •     Ann Cross (£5 voucher from Fossils Galore);
  •     P Roberts, John Whitehead, Shaun Cross (Family swim vouchers for the George Campbell Leisure Centre).

The March Summer Festival Committee would also like to thank Gary Tustin (the MC); the stallholders; the parade participants; the numerous volunteers who helped run the event and local businesses who gave help, prizes and sponsorship. They would also like to say that help and ideas are 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 non-profit making and is made possible by grants from March Town Council, Fenland District Council and PRS for Music along with sponsorship from Smurfit Kappa and Whiting & Partners, advertising revenue, and donations made during the weekend.
A large selection of festival photographs, taken by Al of March Camera Club, our resident photographer and Anthony Hylton and Helen Spall of Aitch Photography have been posted on the website