Mid-Cheshire’s Midsummer Extravaganza!!

The dynamic, diverse & international festival season. By rivers, historical buildings and beautiful scenery. And that’s just in Winsford & Middlewich!

It says so much when BBC Radio DJ Mark Radcliffe gives his endorsement for the Folk & Boat Festival in Middlewich one month & is then on the box presenting coverage live at Glastonbury. So what else connects the world’s largest music festival with it’s distant cousin down in the Weaver Valley? Well I would say it’s the unique local identity. There are other festivals that are bigger and just as famous like Reading and Leeds and people who go seem to have a great time. But do they do anything for the place they call home or could they really be based in any large town or city in the country?

The FAB Festival takes you on a vibrant but quaint tour of the river and pubs of Middlewich. As you cross one of Cheshire’s busiest roads you are transported in to a folky underworld with boats, clothes from far off lands, complex miniature machinery of steam engines & cars and a photography display of even more of the areas best kept secret wonders. Then an impromptu band strike up on a well travelled barge complete with whistles, washboards and things that ‘twang’. The band are met by a unanimous thought of “I’m quite happy to stay here and watch these”. But the fun has only just begun for the streets are buzzing with the melodic echoes from pub doorways and a not so far off field with stalls of exotic food, clothes and beverages and music from folk to pop and back again.

Over in Winsford or should I say Over, in Winsford, saw in the St John’s Church 150th anniversary with a great summer street festival as Winsford’s trio of summer music feasts kicked off in style. Initially intended as a one off but The Delemere Street festival had a wonderful community feel that was as heart warming as it was sunny & bustling. Wincap looked for volunteers, classic cars were put on show, fairground rides whirled and the stages really did rock and roll! A real twist was the lovely tea rooms set up in St John’s Church. The church community worked wonders with fabulous tea and cake and local art work exhibited all over the church. A really bustling and friendly atmosphere that never ceased for the whole day. The local vicar George Crowder who spearheaded the dedicated group of local organisers should be very proud and I hope that after a rest the committee behind it feel the feat could be repeated. Our communities need events like this.

The same stellar line-up of both local and international musicians that graced the stages at the Delamere Street Festival were also on hand at the On The Fringe Festival. Another gloriously sunny day graced what is a stunning location for a festival. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who occasionally had to ask myself and those around me: “Can you believe this is Winsford?” And that isn’t to suggest Winsford isn’t capable of such things, it clearly is, but combined with the weather this felt like we’d been transported to some glamorous European city. Watching the likes of the multi award winning Africa Entsha, complete with rousing community choir (my mother included I might add) lead by the excellent Olly Bancroft, with the sun soaked flashes & waves of green trees as the backdrop, it was a highlight of the summer. Mark Curzon commented during his act how nice it was for the council to have provided the backdrop, it did feel unreal at times. This festival was costantly buzzing with the Academy and Mid-Cheshire students & stage constantly churning out rocking bands, dynamic dance routines and everything in between. Hats off to the academy and college staff who ignored the calls of a weekend off in the sunshine to support the creative madness in the scorching heat.
Golty Farabeau and company did full justice to Bob Marley’s most memorable hits, one of the highlights of all three aforementioned festivals and one to watch at the upcoming Off Cut Folk & Ale Festival, whatever guise they be in.
On the form of the local summer festivals so far, the next one promises to be yet another vivid glimpse into an exciting future for ‘The Weaver Valley’ aka Mid-Cheshire aka Winsford Middlewich & Northwich.
The Off Cut Folk & Ale Festival, built on the history of Winsford is on Sunday 21st July round the back of The Red Lion along the river.
This blog cannot begin to contain all the great stuff that’s been part of the local summer scene so far. I have only included some of my own highlights. Feel free to include your own and tell the world! The best way of making sure these events can keep going each year is to give them a look and tell people what you think in as many ways as possible! Share how good a time you have and make sure others don’t miss out.
Tom Barry
Community Theatre Maker
Born and brought up in Winsford

Published by Tom Barry

Story Artist, Writer and Teller. Part of Story Stitchers Based at The Old School in Warrington, Cheshire

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