This is the report from 2018




This year marked the 19th year of the March Summer Festival Weekend, which has become an established major community event in the Town’s calendar.


The weekend began on Friday evening with Rock in the Park, co-ordinated by Tom Harlock, with our MC for the whole weekend, Gary Tustin. The crowds were entertained first by ‘It Comes In Waves’ followed by Maria Marr, two talented and original singer-songwriters. Next up was Ctrl C an alternative rock and covers band who certainly liked their bass turned to 11! These were followed by the Punk Rock sounds of Scumbus from Peterborough. Our booked headline band unfortunately cancelled at the last minute but Whiskey Twist stepped in to take their place and took the crowd by storm.


The organisation for the Lions Gala Parade started off well with the City Road car park filling with local groups and the classic cars waiting for the Parade around the town. The usual Parade route has had to be shortened to comply with Health and Safety regulations. The first of the classic cars set off on time but the Parade had to be halted due to a medical emergency in the town, and we had to wait for the ambulance services to arrive, deal with the situation and transport the person to hospital. (We have since learned that the person is making a satisfactory recovery). Due to this delay some of the crowds dispersed but those remaining watched as the remaining classic cars went through followed by the Gala Prince (Thomas Jackson) and the Gala Princess (Ebony Grace) in a horse-drawn carriage provided by George Sharman.  The various floats and walkers followed taking up the theme of Disney characters. After the Parade returned to the City Road car park, the classic cars proceeded to the end of the Park where the cars were on display for the rest of the afternoon.


The crowds collected around the front of the stage to watch the Opening Ceremony by Jan French (Mayor of March), Richard Martin (Lions President) and Marcus Phillips (Festival Chairman).  Prizes were given to the Gala Prince and Princess by Richard Martin. The Grand Opening was followed by presentations to the winners of the Parade by the judge, Jan French. The Skoulding Trophy was awarded to 5th March Brownies (Dalmatians 101) as best group, and the Mallett Trophy to Nottingham Building Society & Harrison Murray (Beauty and the Beast)  for best individuals. Bruce Smith then stepped forward to present trophies to the Best Vehicle – a three-wheeled tuk-tuk  and the Best Car – a petrol coloured corvette.


The Fancy Dress came next with the most entries we have ever had. Once again the Mayor stepped in to do the judging and prizes (donated by Boyes) were awarded to: Bobby Parrish as Donald Duck (Under 8 Winner) and Max Phillips as the Mad Hatter (Under 8 Runner-Up), Hollie Andrews as Captain Hook (8-16 Winner) with Matthew Hewitt as Spider-Man (Adult Winner) and Nicola Vincent as the White Queen (Adult Runner-Up). The Patsy Brewin Trophy was awarded to Hollie Andrews as the best Under 16. 


In the meantime the Lions Gala was up and running with more stalls than ever offering the chance to buy and support the various charities and to have some fun with the Bureau of Silly Ideas.


Back on the stage the entertainment was started with ‘Lisa Dickinson’s Dance Mania’ who have been popular regulars at the Festival since 2002, followed by a return of ‘The Casey Academy of Irish Dance’ who are gaining in popularity. A short break from the dancing was with 20Twenty Productions performing songs from their recent productions. Then a return to the dancing, with a first appearance by the ‘Urban Dance Academy’ from Huntingdon.  All the dancers have to be commended for their effort and stamina throughout their  performances. 


Pop in the Park followed with a first time performance by Walkway who wowed the ever increasing crowd with their performance, which sadly had to be shortened slightly due to a commitment to another gig in Newmarket. They were so popular we will investigate getting them back to do a full set!   MADAOS then appeared and charmed the audience with their songs from the shows. Band of Fools were next with their zany humour and Balkan inspired tunes. A first time appearance by Big Phil and the Heartbreakers prompted them to comment that they had never played to such a large crowd, they needn’t have worried their energetic covers were well received by the audience. Finishing off the evening was Scooted n Booted, they delivered an exceptional performance covering the popular Ska and Reggae songs that we all know. The audience were up on their feet dancing and singing along and wanting more and more. The frontman, Alan Driver, has to be given a mention for his true showmanship.


For the first time ever in the Park we arranged for a Dance Tent, this was at the far end of the Park to avoid the clash in music sounds. This was well attended by the people who appreciate this style of music, and although it doesn’t appeal to all, the committee endeavour to cater for all tastes. The Dance Tent proved to be a success and we will try to make it a permanent fixture.


Sunday dawned and the sun made an appearance and the day turned out to be excellent for a ‘Picnic in the Park’. The Fun Dog Show had set up at the far end of the Park with many participants in the various categories, with prizes and rosettes donated and awarded by Doggy Styling. 


By 12.30 hundreds of people were arriving to settle for the day to watch the various stage acts.  The day was started by the Cavalry School Band & Choir who charmed the audience with their beautiful voices and accomplished playing. Next up was the Palmerston Ukulele Band (PUB) and if you thought ukulele playing was just George Formby – then think again! Their set was a delightful mix of ragtime followed by Pink Floyd, followed by the Beatles – the crowd loved it. Throughout the day more and more people were coming into the Park to enjoy the good weather and entertainment. Phil Hare & Don May put in a perfect performance with guitar and fiddle, playing well known Celtic tunes with a hint of jazz and swing that delighted the audience. The tempo was lifted next with Latino Sound – they do what it says on the tin! This had the people up on their feet doing sambas , salsas and many variations thereof.  Winter Wilson slowed things down slightly with their beautiful harmonies and accomplished playing. They managed to bring a sense of intimacy to such a large arena, and the audience took them to their heart. The final act of the weekend was Fred’s House from Cambridge. They look and sound like a mix of Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles but they are more than just a cover band they write their own songs too. They put in an excellent performance, engaging the crowd - and all too soon it was over.


Elsewhere around the Park at 2pm saw the start of the Soap Box Derby which was a popular event for the first time last year. A good crowd turned up to watch again as the hand built vehicles were pushed around the track.

Winners were as follows –

Minis (8-11 years) 

1st place, Squire Boys - Dylan and Toby Squire

Runner up, Team Hollie - Hollie and Colin Andrews

Juniors (12-17 years)

1st place, Bonkers for Conkers -  Wisbech lions

Runner up, 1st March scouts eagle patrol


1st place, March Fireflys - March Fire Brigade

Runner up, The Wheel Nutters -  Ben and Dawn Shepherd.

Fastest overall, March Fireflys

Best presented soapbox, JL76 - Lily and Glenn Reid

All the above were presented with a trophy, all other competitors were given a certificate and lion bar.


Another new event for the Festival was displays by DOA Wrestling, this gathered huge crowds around the two shows at 1pm and 3pm. The younger people loved it and were booing the ‘baddies’ and cheering on the ‘goodies’. All good hearted fun and again we hope to have them back again.


 In the children's arena, near the Bandstand, families enjoyed circus skills with Adrian Ley, face painting by Hayley Dolbear; nature activities provided by the Friends of Rings End Nature Reserve; and the ever popular colouring competition organised by Penny Hicks and Young People March (YPM), and also balloon modelling with Paper-Chain.


As Stephanie Hare, Event Manager noted “Despite the early hic-cups with the Parade, hundreds of people turned up to support the event over the whole weekend, which was very successful.”

March Summer Festival Committee would like to thank March Town Council; Fenland District Council; the stallholders; the parade participants; the performers and the numerous volunteers (a special mention should be given to Declan, a young volunteer litter-picker who worked tirelessly to help keep the Park clear) who helped run the event and local businesses and organisations who gave help, prizes and sponsorship.


The March Summer Festival is non-profit making and is made possible by grants from March Town Council, Fenland District Council along with advertising revenue, sponsorship and donations made during the weekend.