THE first Create Henley festival takes place this weekend.
There will be exhibitions, talks, demonstrations and workshops on crafts such as quilting, knitting, weaving, spinning, tapestry and felt-making as well as willow and flower arranging.
Visitors will be able to buy jewellery, ceramics, textiles, paintings, home furnishings, glass and candles and order custom-made designs.
Events will take place from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday at a range of venues and in the market square.
The festival is the brainchild of town councillor Pam Phillips and is designed to increase footfall in Henley during the off-peak season.
The former mayor said: “The idea was conceived about 18 months ago and it is finally taking place.
“I have been amazed at how many artisans we have in this town and we will hopefully give them the opportunity to promote their work. We are trying to embrace the whole community as well as boost trade for the hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfasts.” Vanessa Blogg, one of the organisers and a partner at Lady Sew and Sew, said: “We are very excited about transforming Henley for the festival with lots of hands-on experiences.
“The idea is to get lots of people out and about to support local businesses. What better way than to show off all the fantastic artisans we have here?
“This is our first one but it’s going to continue and hopefully go from strength to strength.”
Children from Valley Road and St Mary’s schools have been getting involved by knitting 6in x 6in squares which will cover a boat donated by St Mary’s teacher Kate Findlay.
Four hundred squares — about half the number needed — have already been made and will be pieced together at the Lady Sew and Sew warehouse in Farm Road over the weekend. Once the boat has been fully covered it will be displayed at the Henley Arts Trail in May and at the 2015 Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in London.
Everyone who makes a square is being entered into a £50 prize draw, which will be drawn at Lady Sew and Sew during the arts trail on May 5.
Cllr Phillips added: “We are delighted we could bring in the youngsters. They have really embraced learning to knit and crochet, although I think some of the parents and grandparents have enjoyed helping!”
A Love Local market, run by designers Lyn Lambourne and Sarah Kirk, will take place at the town hall on both days. Interior designer Niki Schafer will give a talk called “How to create your dream home” at the town hall on Saturday from 2pm to 3pm.
Workshops will be held at Lady Sew and Sew, the town hall, the River and Rowing Museum and King’s Arms Barn.
The Henley Over 60s Club will run a craft market in Market Place as well as offering tea, coffee and homemade cakes at the club in Greys Road car park.
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