Report on March Summer Festival 2013

The sun may not have shined during much of the weekend, but the rain held off, and the people of March kept on smiling as they enjoyed this year’s packed Summer Festival programme. Thousands of people flocked to West End Park to enjoy the music; the Gala Parade through the town; the variety of stalls and amusements in the Lions Gala and a host of activities during the Picnic in the Park.
 On Friday hundreds of people gathered in front of the open air stage to enjoy the line-up of 'Rock in the Park' which this year was chosen by the members of Young People March. The evening included a selection of lively young and 'up and coming' musicians – The Projectionist, Death Radio, Damaged and Her Dying Regret. The highlight of the evening must have been the eccentric outfits worn by Death Radio!

The Lions Gala occupied many during Saturday morning but by mid-day thousands lined the streets to see the Gala Parade, organised by Rob Skoulding and Graham Litchfield, led by the Town Crier, Bernard Keane, and his wife Sheila riding a vintage tandem, followed by the Gala Princess Charlotte Brearley and her attendant, Hannah Rose Howes (sponsored by March Lions and the Fenland Citizen), and the Mayor of March Cllr Andrew Pugh. The colourful parade also included the Farcet Twist and Twirl Majorettes, Vivien the vintage fire engine (sponsored by former Mayor Patsy Brewin), Sambanda and many other local groups, businesses and individuals.

Cambridgeshire Caledonia Pipe Band to lead our 2011 Festival ParadeWhen the crowds returned to West End Park, the Gala was officially opened by the March Lions President, Mike Eatock, along with Andrew Pugh and Jason Wing. They were followed by the presentation of the trophies to the Winners in the Parade: Willy Wonka (Mallett Trophy for Best in Parade) and the Ballet Dancers from Dance Mania (Skoulding Trophy for Best Individuals).

The Fancy Dress competition then took place, judged by Patsy Brewin, Nigel Coley and Yvonne Eatock. Prizes for both winners and runners-up, donated by Boyes and The Toy Box were awarded: Young children category – Talyn Gibson as Yoda and Holly Andrews as Rapunzel; Older children – Laura Spies as Miss Perfect, and Jake Spies as Woody from Toy Story; Any age – Julie Spies as a clown and Collin Andrews as Summer.

The weather remained mild as the usual huge audience watched the delightful dancing of Lisa Dickinson’s Dance Mania and Sarah's Street Style Dance, interspersed with brief performances by the talented young singer guitarists Misty Jones and Dan Austin and the promising young band, Radiowave. Others wandered around the numerous gala stalls and attractions or enjoyed the other new spectacle of 'Pig Racing'. There was also a chance to view the parade vehicles on display at Brewin Chase!

It was then time to enjoy the boundless energy of local Mod/Ska/Reggae band Scooted’n’Booted, the Classic Rock of Soulweaver and the blend of Celtic Rock performed by The Band from County Hell. They were followed by the amazing UK Beach Boys, who though they didn’t manage to get the sun to shine, gave many people of all ages the desire to get up and dance, soak up the sound of summer, and even try ‘surfing’ on the new aluminium cable cover. Martin Goodjohn from Soulweaver remarked at the end of the evening that “the lovely festival, lovely sound, fantastic audience…put a lot of other bigger festivals to shame.”

Sunday afternoon followed the usual pattern as hundreds of people arrived for 'Picnic in the Park', to hear the mellow music provided by Chatteris Town Band, The Dead Swingers and The Rainmen. Also on the stage were a number of talented local folk musicians, collectively known as Friendly Fenland Folk and a performance of old favourites by the members of March and District Amateur Operatic Society.

For the children there were varied activities including the ever popular Circus Skills Workshop with Adrian Ley, Storytelling by Paul Jackson and the colouring competition organised by Penny Hicks. Prizes for the competition, mostly donated by Greetings, were awarded to Morgain Broad and Paige Talmage (Under 5 category); Kyle Sharman and Jarden Cains (5 – 7 year old); Daisy Brooks and Jodie Mottram (8 – 11 year old) and Siobhan Halliday and Jordan Stoner (12 and over). There was also an prize presented for outstanding achievement to Amber Freshwater.  The afternoon was enhanced by face painting provided by Ellie Berry and friends.

 As the afternoon drifted into evening, the weather remained dry but cooler, but it did not put off hundreds of people who stayed in the park to enjoy the Last Night of the Proms style performance by the Alan Norris Big Band. It was the perfect ending for an amazing weekend. John Whitehead, the MC for the festival said that he was delighted with the whole event and couldn’t think of a better way to describe it than by quoting a couple of cyclists who were travelling through the fens who said they had “never seen such a wonderful event put on anywhere else on their travels.”

During the evening the Grand prize draw took place. Winners were as follows: M Chapman (meal for 2 at the Shah Jahan); S Hennells (carvery meal for 2 at Cassano's); P Hicks (carvery meal for 2 at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel); M Smith (meal for 2 at Ye Olde Griffin; B Grant (£25 voucher for The Ship); L Wilkes (£20 Stardust voucher); S Rutter and D Edwards (craft kits from Storeys); R Crabb (CDs 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. 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.

There is also a gallery of photographs of the event, courtesy of Charles David Photography Ltd.