Tomorrow it is Beeston Festival and for those of you that don’t know, I’m one of the organisers. I had planned to save this topic until next week, but my head is so full of things festival that I can’t think, or write about anything else this week.
The last couple of weeks have been more or less frantic as the last minute tasks pile up, but actually running an annual festival is a year round activity.
It started for me ten years ago. I had run stalls at the festival for a couple of years and having packed up my stall I realised that the organisers still had a lot of clearing up to do. So I stayed and helped them, was invited down the pub and by the end of the evening I was on the committee. As many people have discovered over the years, it is very hard to say “no” to Councillor Gabriel.
The people on the festival committee are a very friendly bunch. Members have come and gone over the years, but as the festival has grown it has attracted people with a range of skills. We see the event lying somewhere on a continuum between Glastonbury and a village fete, we don’t all necessary agree where on that line we should be.
What is the point of Beeston Festival? What is our motivation? We want to put on the best show we can and I think there are two drivers behind that thought.
The first is that sections of the Beeston community are amongst the poorest in the country. The kids will have no family holiday, frightening numbers have never seen the countryside or the sea. So for one day a year we try and bring some fun to their local park. That all sounds very worthy, doesn’t it?
The idea of the festival is that everything’s free. It doesn’t quite work like that. You have to buy food and other goodies in the bazaar, but the entertainment and the children’s activities are free. You also have to pay at the fairground. Personally I think it’s overpriced and a waste of time, but it’s one of the things the local children look forward to the most. So we keep it.
The second reason is pride. As good Yorkshire folk, we Beestoners have a chip our shoulder. It’s tough in Beeston, but we can do anything they can do in Chapel-bloody-Allerton.
Is it worth all the effort, anxiety and pain? I find myself asking this question at various points throughout the year. At some point tomorrow afternoon I will find myself looking around the park at crowds of people enjoying themselves and the answer will be a resounding “yes”. What’s more, it’s a very addictive buzz so I’ll be back to do it all again next year.
So do come down to Cross Flatts Park tomorrow afternoon. Bring your sunscreen and your dancing shoes. It’s guaranteed fun in the sun.
I’ll be back next week with more of my views from South of the River. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me: @BeestonJeremy.