The 14th Tenterden Folk Festival has come and gone. I cannot believe how quickly the year has gone by as it only seems a short time ago that we were booking the guests, dance sides and venues and planning what we wanted to do this year.
Now is probably the time to say thank you to everyone who gave up their time to help with this yearís Festival including my fellow Trustees and the Festival committee, the stewards and workforce, the guests, the dance sides, the stallholders, the singers and musicians, Bo Foaks and Gordon Thrussell who did the sound for the concerts and dance displays respectively, the venues, the publicans, the staff of the Tourist Information Centres, the local police, St Johnís Ambulance, Tenterden Town Council, Ashford Borough Council, The Foundation for Sport and Arts, our sponsors and supporters, the VIPs, the people of Tenterden and of course all those who attended the Festival over the weekend. The Festival could not happen without any of these individuals or organisations.
I would particularly like to thank Cllr Anne Thomas who has been a member of the Festival committee from the early days of Tenterden Folk Day and became a Trustee in June 1995. One of Anneís particular responsibilities during that time has been organising the VIP reception which not only enables us to show our appreciation of the support we get from many local Councillors, Council officers and other individuals but enables us to get many of them into one place at the same time and show them a small part of what we are setting out to achieve with the Festival. Unfortunately Anne was unable to attend the Festival this year as she was in hospital. We all wish her a speedy recovery. Whilst on the subject of the VIP receptions I must also thank Kent and East Sussex Railway for their hospitality and the provision of the buffet and use of the Pullman carriage and Tenterden Vineyard for the wine. Also The Mayor of Tenterden for the use of the Mayors Parlour and Waitrose for food. Not forgetting the dance sides who entertained the dignitaries.
The Tenterden Club:
The Tenterden Clubís Moulton Hall and Evanís Bar proved to be an ideal venue for the English Barn Dance with Tickled Pink. Attendance at the barn dance was up on previous years and everyone enjoyed the music and the added comfort and facilities offered by the Club, not least the bar. The Kerry Colleens, two championship standard Irish dancers, put on an excellent display during the evening and I hope that we will see more of them in future years. Thanks also go to Eileen Catt and her team for the provision of food. I very much hope that we can build on the success of this yearís barn dance and the use of the Club next year.
Craft fair and stalls:
Gail Wright has been organising the Festival craft fair and the street stalls for many years and the range and quality of the stalls just seems to get better each year. Last year we moved the folk sales side of the craft fair into the adjacent Woolpack Barn and this year Kathy and Bob Drage increased the number of stalls there too. We were rather worried when we saw the weather in the few days running up to the Festival as the greens in the High Street were very wet and on Thursday and Friday the rain was getting into the barn. High quality musical instruments and rain do not mix! The sudden change in the weather for Saturday and Sunday was unbelievable and saved the weekend not only for the stalls but also for the campsite and the outdoor dance displays.
Kent and East Sussex Railway:
Thanks to K&ES Railway several dance sides had the opportunity for a ride on the trains on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday various Festival guests including Kimberís Men and The Wealden Ramblers together with Bob and Kathy Drage and various floor singers also entertained passengers on the railway. I have yet to fit this experience into the busy Festival weekend but look forward to doing so in the future.
Concerts, sing-a-rounds, sessions, etc.:
I think I spent most of the weekend going from one venue and event to another to get an overall feel of how the Festival was going, to the extent that on Saturday evening the sole fell of my shoe! A few events, particularly some of the workshops, had a small but select audience, but most were very well attended. The Friday night session in the William Caxton was well supported by singers mainly from Kent and Sussex and I hope we can do something similar next year. Despite the fact that we had increased the number of events, the Saturday evening concert in the Eight Bells was virtually full all evening and was a great success, the sing-a-round in the White Lion was well attended and Kimberís Men attracted a crowd in the William Caxton. Sunday has always been a quiet day but our efforts to build up the events and attendances on Sunday seem to be paying off. The Shanty and sea song session on Sunday was very well supported but with the line up involved that should be no surprise. The marquee in the Woolpack garden was an added attraction and, new landlord willing, we would like to build on that next year. At one point The Simon Hopper Band had an audience of around 40 people setting on chairs in the Woolpack car park listening to them playing in the marquee. Travelling Folk and The Drift performed in the newly renovated Vine Inn and made a very positive impression on the management. It is impossible to mention all the events and venues.
The public face of the Festival is very much the dance displays in the High Street, the procession and the dance display in the coach park. Despite the very wet weather in the few days before the Festival quite a few of the dancers were camping in the town centre camp site or using the indoor camping provided and there was a very colourful and exciting turnout with sides from Kent, Sussex, Essex and London. As usual Tanglefoot Appalachian performed to a good crowd out side the Town Hall and two or three Morris sides were to be found at every suitable dance site around the town centre. Our dance co-ordinator Dave Masterson must be congratulated on producing a good turnout yet again.
Ticket sales and street collections:
Advance ticket sales were up on previous years and the Tourist Information Centre was busy selling tickets on Friday and Saturday. We have not yet fully collated all the returns but indications are that collections in the streets and venues over the weekend topped £1,000 for the first time. All takings are of course ploughed back into the charity to enable us to develop and expand the Festival and our other charitable activities.
Kent County Show:
Tenterden Folk Festival and South East Folk Arts Network co-ordinated three days of folk song, music and dance in the Produced in Kent Village at the County Show in July which helped to present performers from Kent and Sussex to new audiences. This event also helped to raise the profile of the Festival. We are hoping that we will be able to do something similar in 2007.
As part of our outreach work we take folk song, music and dance into schools across Kent. Pete Castle and Keith Kendrick have spent two days each at Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre and Great Chart CP School in October and we will be visiting Holy Trinity and St John's School in Margate in November. There are also other bookings in the pipeline.
With an event of this size an occasional problem has to be expected and there were indeed one or two problems but these were overcome and the weekend was, from our point of view, a great success. I believe all the guests and dance sides enjoyed taking part. Over the weekend I met lots of old friends, some of whom I only see infrequently, and made new ones.
We welcome your constructive comments on the Festival and our other activities. If you would like to get involved in helping us develop the festival please contact any of the committee. We are always looking for extra committee members, stewards, street collectors and other helpers. We are also looking grateful for sponsorship or donations.
Tenterden Folk Festival 2007:
Now we will start planning for Tenterden Folk Festival 2007 which will take place from Friday 5th to Sunday 7th October 2007.
Trustee and Festival Director
19th October 2006
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Press release Ė 19th October 2006
Trustee and Festival Director
Tenterden Folk Day Trust and Tenterden Folk Festival (Registered charity No 1038663)
Promoting folk song, music and dance
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