Thursday, 23 September 2021

Festival is out of this world

Festival is out of this world

THIS year’s Wargrave Village Festival was the best ever, says its chairman.

The biennial festival was held over three weeks last month with a total of 46 events.

These included a quiz night, a dancing competition and a talent show before the festival ended with a parade around the village and a fete on Mill Green.

The theme of this year’s festival was “out of this world” and children were encouraged to dress up as aliens and science fiction characters.

Almost every event was sold out with more than 5,700 tickets being snapped up.

Chairman Graham Howe said: “We had a very good festival and the feedback has been that the quality of the events was very good.

“All the events were fully subscribed and the free events like the fete and parade had lots of people at them.

“It was very hot on the first weekend and the weather brought people out on to the green.

“There were around 10,000 pints of beer sold and 4,000 glasses of wine. The Prosecco, lager and cider were going faster than we could supply them!”

Among the most popular events was a variety show at the festival marquee in Mill Green featuring singers, dancers and magicians.

Performers of all ages took to the stage, including a 30-strong choir and a banjo player.

Stuart Bevan, headteacher of the Robert Piggott Junior School in School Hill, was sawn in half by his father-in-law.

Hundreds of people took part in the parade. Walkers dressed up in colourful outfits and put glitter on their faces and were joined by bagpipe players from the Reading Scottish Pipe Band.

The fete featured games, food and drink and a dog show which was won by Annie Young with her pet Tessa.

The previous night, the traditional festival ball was held in the marquee.

Earlier in the week there was a race night and barbecue and bingo night hosted by Wargrave guides.

A comedy night featured improv troupe The Noise Next Door and comedian Sara Pascoe, who has appeared on Mock the Week and QI.

The final performance was by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Big Band on Mill Green.

Mr Howe said about 800 people attended the variety show — a record — and 1,300 people were at the fete. “The fete was a triumph,” he said. “The more people there smiling, the better it feels.

“It was great to see the guides have a lot of walk-ins for their bingo night. There were nearly 300 people there and it was a real family affair.

“The comedy night went down really well and the ladies’ wellness evening was back for the first time in four or five festivals.”

Other events included four days of Shakespeare on the Green with Wargrave Theatre Workshop staging The Merchant of Venice while the junior section performed A Spoonful of Sugar, an adaptation of Mary Poppins.

There was a folk night at the Woodclyffe Hall in High Street, a concert called “Brass on the Grass” by the Bracknell and Wokingham Community Band on Mill Green and an open day at Wargrave Boating Club, off Watermans Way.

Mr Howe said he expected the festival to have made more than £170,000. The 22 village societies which ran events will receive profits of about £60,000 between them while 20 per cent of the takings will go to the festival committee.

Planning for the 2019 festival will start next year.

Mr Howe said: “We will reform the committee in February or March and start on the next cycle. We are lucky enough to have a fantastic committee which is very hard-working and aspirational. Hopefully they will all stay on.

“Every time we have the accolade of ‘the best festival ever’ and it’s down to the hard work of those 20 people.”

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