Report on March Summer Festival 2014
It rained on our Parade!
Despite the downpour that meant that there was a much smaller than usual crowd watching the parade, the fifteenth March Summer Festival Weekend, turned out to be as amazing as ever
Once again thousands of people flocked to West End Park to enjoy the great variety of music; the Classic Vehicle and Gala Parades 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 about three hundred people gathered to enjoy the diverse line-up of 'Rock in the Park' which this year was coordinated by Chris Revett of Camblast, with sponsorship from WMS Music. With music from 'Damaged', Kamikaze Hotshot, Death Radio, Vendetta and Dirty Kirst their mix of hardcore punk and rock interspersed with acoustic songs from local singer-songwriter Rob Paling, could best be described as not for the 'faint-hearted.'
Chris explained how Rob Paling used to be a regular performer at the festival from 2004 until 2008 when he moved away to Cambridge,”Having Rob back was really awesome. Everyone was behind him”.
Rain didn't stop the festivities on Saturday morning as the park filled up for the Lions Gala but by the time the vintage vehicles and local groups gathered in City Road Lorry Park for the parades the rain was torrential.
Despite the rain a large of number of vehicles took part in the first March Vintage Vehicle parade. Ray Howes, parade organiser commented “given the weather, the parade was fantastic. I am really impressed at the number of people who brought out their valuable vintage cars even though it was raining. One small Austin Seven came over from Haverhill in Suffolk.”
The main Gala Parade, organised by Rob Skoulding, led by Sambanda followed by the Gala Princess Nina Bridger (age 11) and her attendant, Lila Mai Mottram (age 9) (sponsored by March Lions and the Fenland Citizen), and the Mayor of March Cllr. Kit Owen. The colourful parade, though much depleted due to the weather conditions also included a number of other local groups, businesses and individuals.
When the crowds returned to West End Park, the Gala was officially opened by the March Lions President Elect, Yvonne Eatock, along with Kit Owen and Patsy Brewin. They were followed by the presentation of the trophies to the Winners in the Parade: Dance Mania members as 'Grease' (Mallett Trophy for Best in Parade) and the 4th March Brownies and Rainbows (Skoulding Trophy for Best Individuals). Sadly the latter was not in attendance and so their trophy will be handed to them by Rob Skoulding later this week.
The Fancy Dress competition then took place, judged by Mr & Mrs John Whitehead and Patsy Brewin. Prizes for both winners and runners-up, donated by Boyes and The Toy Box were awarded to Lola Dickinson as a Pink Lady from Grease; Toni Arnold as a Fantasy Queen and Lauren Pailing as Tron. A special prize for effort was also given to Sharon Shepherd.
The weather brightened up as the afternoon progressed as a slightly smaller than usual, but still large audience watched the delightful dancing of Lisa Dickinson’s Dance Mania and Sarah's Street Style Dance, interspersed with a performance by the mellow sounds of Tom Harlock and Aimee Peart-Webb. The afternoon ended with bluesy sounds of the talented young singer guitarist Misty Jones.
Whilst many people enjoyed the entertainments on the stage, others wandered around the numerous gala stalls and attractions or took the opportunity to view the classic vehicles on display at the far end of the park!
The winners of the Classic Car Parade, namely John Ridley for his Riley 472 and Chris Wayman for his 1959 Mark 1 Scootarcar. were also presented with trophies by Bruce Smith during the afternoon.
As afternoon turned into evening the sun was shining brightly as the gala came to a close and Pop in the Park, sponsored by Pilgrim’s of March began. Now it was time to enjoy the varied set of skilful local group Radiowave, followed by the ever popular March band Wild Honey and the classic rock band Soulweaver.
The evening was rounded off by a Las Vegas style concert by Benwick based Elvis Tribute act Gary Jay supported by The Wonder of Elvis Band. Gary not only looked like 'The King' but also invited some of the female members of the audience up onto the stage.
The Sunday afternoon sunshine enabled hundreds of people to enjoy a wonderful 'Picnic in the Park' with music provided by the Fenland Youth Swing Band, The Rob James Band and The Rusty Relics and 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 Peter Optical and the colouring competition organised by Penny Hicks. Prizes for the competition, donated by Greetings and Boyes, were awarded to Jenson High and James Venni (Under 5 category); Isabel Dickinson Lennon......and Molly...... (5 – 7 year old); Deanna Rayner and Nina Cottam (8 – 11 year old) and Hanna Whinnett and Alice Sobeleus (12 and over). The afternoon was enhanced by face painting provided by Hayley Dolbear.
As the afternoon drifted into evening, the weather remained sunny, but it did not put off the many people who stayed in the park to enjoy a rousing performance by the Alan Norris Big Band.
The weekend prompted many favourable comments including Margaret Oatey MBE’s observation that “we had friends down from Halifax. They have a party in their park but it has nothing like the atmosphere of the one we have here in March.”
During the evening the Grand Draw with 22 great prizes took place. Winners were as follows: S Emerson (£300 wallpaper design from 3B Design and Print); A Clarke (studio portrait sitting and print from Charles David Photography; Vicky & Dick (£50 Holiday voucher from Holiday with Us); Alice Darwood (12 week gym membership from the Oliver Cromwell Hotel); Patsy Brewin (Sunday lunch for 2 at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel); M Hughes (a cycle carrier from UK Towbars Ltd); W Ringham (8 week gym membership George Campbell Leisure Centre); Faye Heading (£30 saving stamps from Iceland); Diane Crabb (tea for 2 at the Royal Exchange Tea Parlour); Mrs Page ( meal for 2 at the Olde Griffin Hotel); Augustine Vandervel (fish supper for 2 at Stotts Fish Restaurant); Hilary Dickinson (carvery for 2 at Cassanno’s); M Thomas (£20 voucher for Stardust); Lorraine Woodjetts (£20 voucher from The Spicebank); Murton (2 main meals at Shah Jahan); Lisa Thomas (2 main meals at The Hippodrome); Val Hodges (2 main meals at Cobblestones); Lola Fuller (2 desserts at Cobblestones); Ralph Crabb (a large pizza from Domino’s); Steve Bailey (hair products from Phoenix Hair & Beauty); Sadie Mann (meal for 2 at The Acre); Nicola Hennells (breakfast for 2 at The Ship).
Winners who did not collect their prizes will be contacted during the week.
The March Summer Festival Committee would also like to thank John Whitehead (the MC); the stallholders; the parade participants; the numerous volunteers who helped run the event and local businesses who have given 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 advertising revenue, sponsorship and donations made during the weekend.
There is also a gallery of photographs of the event, courtesy of Charles David Photography Ltd.