Worstead Festival preview

No other village can boast the same atmosphere as the one created at Worstead over the three-day festival weekend.

No other village can boast the same atmosphere as the one created at Worstead over the three-day festival weekend.

A favourite event in the diaries of thousands of people, and one which also attracts many newcomers, the Worstead Festival kicks off this Friday, July 25, for the 43rd time.

Started in 1966 as a way to raise funds for the village church of St Mary the Virgin, the festival has grown in character and ambience ever since.

From the tradition of the heavy horses on Mill Hill and the weavers, spinners and lacemakers in the church, to the swing of a jazz band, through the arts and crafts around the festival, expect a seriously diverse offering.

And all in aid of charity - thousands of people locally have benefited in some way from donations to good causes, both in Worstead itself and in the surrounding villages.

Schools, churches and clubs are just some of those who have received generous grants.

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About 25,000-30,000 people will visit the village in the coming days, as the community bustles with activity and fun throughout the day and into the evening.

“Last year all those who supported the event helped to make it probably the most successful one yet,” said festival chairman Vic Steyerman.

“Those of you who have been before will no doubt notice a few changes. After all these years, the old grain store and yard, together with the classic car field, are no longer available to us.

“However, we've turned a loss into an opportunity, and it's now important that you venture into the heavy horse and vintage tractor field via the high conifer hedge at the end of the main field.

“Here you will find the new site for the classic cars and not only on Sunday but also Saturday for the first time.”

The same site will also host the Bird and Seal Rescue Trust exhibition, which has become a festival favourite.

“The wonderful arts and crafts display, previously in the grain store, will be in and around the main field and regular visitors are certain to notice the 'new look' as they enter the main gate with many mini-marquees full of good things not to be missed,” added Mr Steyerman.

“With sheep shearing near the display ring and a weekend programme in the village square there is something for everyone of all ages and all for probably the lowest cost of entry for a Norfolk day out to be found.

“Please enjoy the full programme throughout the weekend.”

t www.worsteadfestival.org

DISPLAY RING HOST RANGE OF CROWD-PLEASERS

At the heart of the festival is the display ring, which will be full of performers, animals, history and fun for the duration of the three-day event.

While Friday is taken up by the RAF Careers-sponsored children's football tournament, Saturday and Sunday feature a range of different styles of entertainment.

From the tradition of the vintage tractors and the heavy horses, to the modern day fun of gymnasts and sheep dogs performing with some unusual quarry, there is a wide variety of choice.

Vic Steyerman, who organises the display ring as well as being festival chairman, said the diversity of acts and performers covered all interests and tastes.

“The teams of youngsters competing in the football on Friday always get an enthusiastic crowd,” he added.

“During the weekend, the countryside is represented by displays and parades of vintage tractors, classic cars and the

ever-welcome heavy horses.

“Sheep dogs are put through their paces by trying to control ducks and geese, always good for a laugh while demonstrating some fine skills of man and dog.

“A large display of rescued animals and birds will for the first time come into the ring.”

Other highlights will be the “ever popular and polished” Norfolk Carriages parade and the American miniature horses on the Sunday.

Music will be supplied on Saturday by a strolling New Orleans-type jazz band called the Callow Street Paraders, and on Sunday by festival regulars the Norwich City Pipe Band.

The Callow Street Paraders deserved particular credit for coming at short notice after a last-minute cancellation, added Mr Steyerman.

“The dogs are not forgotten and, at the end of the Saturday and Sunday programme, our visitors are invited into the ring to see just how fast their pet can run, which draws one of the largest crowds to ringside,” said Mr Steyerman.

BIG LIVE MUSIC LINE-UP PROMISED

A favourite part of the festival is the village square music, which runs during the day on both Saturday and Sunday. There is also evening music in the New Inn on all three days.

The square will be closed to traffic between 11am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday; in previous years it has been shared by traffic.

Toby Rose, who organises the music line-up, said: “This year we see a wide range of talented performers, from Norfolk style punk-folk to flamenco dancing.

“The Collective, who kick off the line-up on Friday night, are a seven piece relatively new on the scene - but with their combined experience and exceptional talent expect an exciting and lively show.

“Saturday features festival favourites the Water Rats Jazz Band, it is their last performance of their annual Broads tour. Theatre group Worstead Entertainers will also be making an appearance.

“The Mustard City Rockers will be on twice, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, with their very own brand of political-Norfolk-folk-punk.

“Sunday sees the usual high standard of music from the likes of Neil Daniels and Dave Morrison's blues and also the Booze Brothers. And we have flamenco dancing from Mezcla in the square between acts.”