Report on March Summer Festival 2010

Thousands of people once again enjoyed the delights of the March Summer Festival over the weekend as the sun shone down on the musical entertainments and the Lions Gala in West End Park,  the Parade around the town and much, much more.

The weekend started with “Rock in the Park” on Friday evening during which the bands: The Polymers, Andistasis and The Stanza and the soloists: Jana Metcalf and Oli Griffin, performing on the huge open air stage, entertained record crowds of up to 500 mainly young people. Special mention must be made of  15 year old Jana, who bravely opened the event and gave an admirable performance which included some of her own songs and Oli Griffin for his amazing beatbox vocals.

On Saturday morning the weather stayed dry for hundreds of people to enjoy the Lions car boot sale and then to throng the streets to watch the Gala Parade. Organised for the first time by Reg Kemp, the Carnival style procession, headed by the Gala Princess, Georgia Biggs and her attendant, Lauren Jackson, followed by the Mayor, the Ely Samba Band and many, many local organisations clearly demonstrated the community spirit that is growing around the festival.

Back in West End Park crowds gathered to enjoy the Lions Gala stalls (co-ordinated for the first time by Graham Litchfield), and to watch a variety of perfomances on the stage including a very energetic Zumba Display, the consistently polished Lisa Dickinson's “Dance Mania,” and, also for the first time at the festival, Sarah's Street Style Dancers. The stage also saw the presentation of the trophy to the winners of the best decorated float (Young People March) and the Fancy Dress Competition which was won by Daniel & Katie as Lion and Lion Tamer (Tiny Tots prize); Kara as a Genie (Intermediate prize); and Collette as a Ring Master (Adult prize). Runners up were Kirsty as a Clown, Gill as a Clown and Michelle as a Fortune Teller respectively.

As the afternoon drew on and the Gala stalls closed down, thousands continued to sit in front of the stage to watch some wonderful first appearances at the festival by Surviving Sunday, Aimee Peart-Webb, The Brink and The Hoodwinks as well as popular local groups Loose Baby Charlotte and Krak'n. Most notable of these were Aimee for her beautiful voice, The Brink for their stagecraft and mastery of the audience, Hoodwinks for their sense of fun and Krak'n for once again leaving the audience on such a high that many didn't want to go home!

Sunday morning saw the weather changeable, but this did not stop many families venturing out to enjoy the Picnic in the Park. The musical entertainment commenced on a mellow note with March Brass 2000; followed by 20 Dead Mosquitoes (whose name was inspired by swatting the nasty creatures); the delightful Katie Terry (who had her own fans complete with banner!); Beatroot Ceilidh Band (who had many people up dancing in a small arena); Bondy (who performed some well crafted songs) and finally Stealer who rounded off the afternoon in great style with their tribute to the rock band 'Free.'

The highlight of the afternoon was the performance by Lucy Collins, who gave a first class rendition of songs from well known shows and proved herself to be a worthy winner of the Fenland has (Musical) Talent contest. Such was the power of this young ladies beautiful voice that many were moved to comment that she should be destined to go far.

Also on the park on Sunday were Adrian Ley of Feet First Entertainment who charmed the children with stilt walking, balloon modelling and circus skills, Storyteller Helen Frances who delighted both children and adults with a selection of tales and Penny Hicks who organised a colouring competition. There were some wonderful entries for the competition but the eventual winners were Kirsty Smith (1st ), Hannah Howes (2nd) and Kacey Sharman (3rd) in the under 7 category; Siobhan (1st), Kahra Cotton (2nd) and Georgia Smith (3rd) in the 7-10 years group and Alice Darwood (1st), Reece Harding (2nd) and Kiro Gibson (3rd) in the older section.

The weekend was rounded off with the concert by the amazing Virtuosi GUS Band who kept the crowd enthralled, despite the changeable weather, with a great selection of tunes including a tribute to the late Peter Hewitt. One member of the audience described the experience as like being “wrapped in warm velvet!” During the interval the Chairman, Marcus Phillips thanked John Whitehead (the MC); the performers; the Festival Committee and other “volunteers” who helped run the event; the local businesses who offered help and sponsorship; the Lions and the Stallholders in the Gala, all who took part in the Parade and everyone else who had supported the festival which had celebrated its 10th anniversary. He also urged anyone who would like to help in any way with  future festivals to get in touch via Clive Lemmon at the Town Hall.

Also during the Band concert interval the prize draw winners were announced. They were as follows:A Frost (Voucher for 2 meals at the Olde Griffin), Kelly Bryant (meal for 2 at the Shah Jahan), Heather Hewitt (meal for 2 at The Stars), Alice Chatten (£20 Stardust voucher), Lisa Dickinson (meal for 2 at Cassano's), Margaret Bishop (Priory Golf Range voucher) and Jonathan Clark (a months Gym membership for 2 at Energize Club in the Oliver Cromwell Motel.
The March Summer Festival is made possible by grants from March Town Council, Fenland Arts Association, Fenland District Council and PRS for Music. This year we also received generous sponsorship from Next Steps Community Care and Secure Design as well as assistance from many local businesses.

Lots of photos were taken courtesy of Charles David Photography and these can be viewed on their website at :