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Horsham English Festival – a unique spectacle

Photo credit: Toby Phillips

Horsham’s two day English Festival had something for everybody combining traditional English dance, food & drink, music, British cars, medieval mayhem and entertainments. The Horsham English Festival captured much of what we love about living in Horsham, at heart still an English country market town.

Saturday’s Broadwood Day of Dance once again filled the town with a riot of colour, movement and sound as 26 Morris Dancing ‘sides’ mostly from the local area, performed to the delight of large crowds. The exception was the ‘Pedants Revolt’ who made a return visit from Norfolk. The dancing covered the whole town including the markets in the Carfax and the Bishopric.

Spectators were also treated to the sight of Davey Pearson from the Horsham District Post joining the Broadwood Morris Men to display his dancing skills. The crowd on the Forum gave him 10 out of 10 for his efforts.

A collection of Morris Minor cars were on display in the Forum (including local well known Horsham carpet store’s own C Berwick & Sons immaculate Morris Minor van).

Many of the dancers and members of the public were keen to participate in the barn dance at the bandstand which brought the festivities to a close on Saturday shortly before 4.00pm. We would like to thank our Day of Dance sponsors Welton’s Brewery, Courtney Green, The Beer Essentials and Back in Action Osteopathy.

Sunday’s Horsham Folk Club concert in aid of Samaritans included a wide variety of music from folk to rock and dance.

There was also a display of 26 Aston Martin cars from their Area 16 Owners Club, sponsored by HWM Walton on Thames and Traction Engines.

A first this year was the Routemaster bus provided by Southern Transit who offered tours round the town and invited donations for the Samaritans.

Crates Local Produce placed an iconic black cab on the Carfax and provided gin tasting as well as the chance to sit in the driver’s seat of the cab, again inviting donations for Samaritans.

The organisers of the Loxwood Joust brought knightly endeavours to the fore with informative presentations and sword fighting demonstrations in the Market Square and occasional forays around the town. An encouragement for all that saw them to attend their August medieval festival dates.

This year there was also a visit from the ‘Wight Diamonds’ marching band from the Isle of Wight.

Back again by popular demand was Richard Alan with Circus Skills. Mums, dads and children all enjoyed learning to spin plates and juggle.

A variety of food and product stalls, completed the picture for a good, sunny, day out.

Cabinet Member for the Local Economy Cllr Gordon Lindsay said of the event:

“Yet another successful event in our social calendar, the English Festival brought a riot of colour to Horsham Town Centre and also attracted thousands of visitors to enjoy the spectacle.

“The blend of activities offered a great variety of experiences for visitors and it really feels that this event weekend is maturing to become a must see event.

“Local businesses have said that they faired very well throughout the weekend and in terms of footfall impact we can report significantly increased figures compared to a normal weekend which is great news all round.”

Samaritans and Horsham Folk Club event organiser Caroline Thomas was delighted with the Sunday saying:

“I am very grateful to all of the clubs, volunteers, businesses, Food Rocks and Horsham District Council which together helped us with our second Horsham English Festival Sunday. I think we are getting some great elements together for these events and I am looking forward to building up a plan for next year.”

Roger Dugdale, Director of Samaritans of Horsham & Crawley said:

“We are immensely grateful to everyone who contributed to the day and gave so generously. The sum of £460 that we raised will go a long way to helping us to keep up our support for those in distress.”

Dick Streeter, who was heavily involved in both days was also pleased saying:

“The weather wasn’t so good on the Saturday this year but we still managed attract good crowds to see the huge variety of Morris sides.”

“If any local group or business is interested in working with us on next year’s English Festival, I’d ask them to contact us now so we can build something even more special for 2019. We would also encourage people to add their photos and comments to the ‘Horsham English Festival’ facebook page.”

Horsham District Council supports the Horsham English Festival and all town centre events and activities through its Horsham Time Well Spent Events Partnership. News and dates  for all of these can be found on facebook  www.facebook.com/horshamtimewellspent and twitter www.twitter.com/HorshamTWS  Behind the scenes pictures are also accessible via www.instagram.com/horshamtimewellspent

Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 116 123 a free to call number.

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