As Cher once famously said, “if I could turn back time” …I’d find myself enjoying a glorious late summer afternoon on the first Sunday in September, which, if you somehow managed to dodge the publicity, was the day that ElmsFest returned to Blackbourne.
After a year of planning, our small, dedicated group of (just three) organisers managed to attract around 1,500 people through the gate and, somehow, everything seemed to go, almost, to plan! Visitor numbers were, without a doubt, up from last year…possibly down to more of a social media presence and newly designed posters and banners. We have been delighted to receive so many positive comments regarding our publicity this year – something which we felt was an important part to get right.
Crowds quickly flocked into Blackbourne to experience the many exciting acts, stalls and entertainment that ElmsFest had to offer. We even had all three emergency services represented on the day – fire, police and ambulance – all more than happy to let people look around their vehicles and stop for a chat! Local group, True Fable, opened the show this year, performing covers from their new party hits playlist, followed by a static bird of prey display, Kuk Sool Won, hit music from Kate McCabe, dog displays, a variety of music from talented Harry Cambridge, an RAF Spitfire flypast (who surprised us 10 minutes ahead of schedule!), Ju Jutsu performances, a flying bird display and closing with a final set from the True Fable girls – what a day!
You may have noticed that our compère, Wayne Bavin, was nowhere to be seen – he double booked us!! So, just three weeks before ElmsFest, Kate McCabe stepped in and agreed to host the event for us, as well as performing her set half way through! We cannot thank Kate enough, and I think everybody will agree what an excellent job she done…so we’ve asked her back next year!
We are thrilled that so many more local clubs and organisations attended this year, all of which, I believe, benefitted in many different ways. Our aim from the very beginning was for ElmsFest to appeal to everyone and hopefully we have done just that.
A huge thank you to everybody who attended, supported, sponsored and volunteered at ElmsFest this year. We couldn’t run the fayre without the generosity of so many people and we really appreciate all of your support. In no particular order, our thanks go to Brittany Hewitt, Ruth Salmon, Laurence Franklin, Peter Dow, Peter Edmonds, Gary Riches, Jamie, Evie, Amy and Louise Wiley, Gail Webb, Steve Chapman, Henry Lord, Tom Cross, Hannah Mayhew, Helen and Richard Flack, Robert Nunn, Simon, Tracey and Zoe Catchpole, Mark Edwards, Tom Stokes, Chloe, Ruby, Inigo, and anybody else who has provided support throughout the year.
At the time of writing this, we are unsure on our final takings, as we’re still awaiting money from a few remaining stall-holders. However, should we make a profit, this will, of course, be donated locally. Our sponsors are the backbone for how we are able to keep entry fees to a minimum and without them, ElmsFest would not be the success it currently is. So, a heartfelt thank you goes to the following local businesses: Taylor Wimpey, Endurance Estates, Elmswell Parish Council, Suffolk Event Catering, Park Garage Services, East of England Co-op and Harvey Clinics. Also, to Mid Suffolk District Council for supplying the traffic cones, Hudson Haulage for the use of their lorry body for our sound stage, Colin Gould for lending us the beer tent, all Blackbourne residents for their cooperation in maintaining a clear exit route for emergency services, and to Elmswell Amenities Association for their financial backing, should we fail to make profit.
This year, we decided to produce a colour programme to hand out free on the gate, sponsored by local businesses buying advertisement space inside. The spaces quickly sold out and so we were able to produce these with no cost implications. Thank you to all businesses who bought space inside and also to all distributors of August’s Elmswell Newsletter, for including a programme inside every copy – and, of course, to the editors of the Elmswell Newsletter for being so supportive and helping us to reach out to every house in the village.
However, my biggest thanks of all go to Mike Friend and Sol Indurain, whom, without them, ElmsFest would not even exist! I, Chris Wiley, write these columns every month, but have realised that I don’t give enough praise to them both – we meet many times throughout the year to organise ElmsFest and that, to me, deserves a lot more credit than it currently receives.
So, until next year… Thank you! We look forward to seeing you again next year on Sunday 1st September 2019.