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21st Century Village Feast!

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Plans are afoot for Haddenham to host a new, week-long "Peoples' Festival" in September.

Called 'The Feast Festival', a wide range of cultural, social and arts events is being planned, to be held every day, in all parts of the village, appealing to all tastes and ages. You can find out more at the Feast's Facebook page.

What is the 'Feast Festival'?

The Feast is different from any other festivals normally held in Haddenham. It is not a one-day event focused on one activity. Instead, it brings together a wide range of arts, social and cultural groups to organise different events during the week of 14th-23rd September that will showcase the range of activities and interests in the village.

The ambition is to stage several different events on each day, at different times, and in different locations across the village. We want to offer everyone choice: choice of activity, choice of convenient time to attend (e.g., children during the day, families early evening, and commuters later in the evening) and, where possible, bring events to the community, visiting the new residential areas and in venues like the village's pubs and retail outlets.

Why have the Festival?

The Feast Festival is a community-led response to Haddenham's rapid expansion, with new people moving in and longer-term residents adapting to the change and challenges that this growth creates.

It is intended to bring new and old Haddenham together, by building on the traditions of the past to celebrate and empasise a sense of community going forward. An opportunity for everyone in the village to watch, join in, or help organise a wide range of fun creative and leisure activities.

From medieval times, Haddenham's annual feast was based around religious ceremonies on the Sunday, followed by a day of exuberance involving all members of the community on the Monday. The Haddenham Fair Service and the Fair itself are the last remaining remnants of these ancient activities and the Fair has been run by the same family of fair folk for eight generations!

Linking with the church services and Fair, we want to recapture the energy of those times, but with a contemporary spin.

Arts, crafts and cultural activities are the best way to ensure there is something of interest for everyone. But we want to be very open to what that might include. It may be something primarily of interest to one age group (e.g., a video-gaming competition), of interest to the more energetic (dancing, street theatre), or for those seeking calmer reflection (poetry, painting, photography).

By having a wide range of activities that provide something for everyone to enjoy, the organisers hope to create an open environment that allows new friendships, networks and community collaborations to take place, all of which will help make Haddenham an even better place to live.

As important as community cohesion, there is also a need to focus on the lack of funding in public cultural and arts facilities in the village. These form part of Haddenham's Neighbourhood Plan but have not yet been implemented. Having a week focused on the variety of activities and interests in the village, and showing the popular demand for participation, will help build the evidence we need to secure sustainable funding for the facilities we so desperately need.

What needs to be done? How can you help?

The Feast organisers held an initial planning workshop with 20+ arts groups and individuals, which generated a lot of creative ideas, offers of support, and feedback on how best to organise the event. This was just a start, and in the coming weeks we will be asking everyone in the community for their thoughts and input.

The Feast organisers are not organising all the events. We are simply providing a management and co-ordination framework, to help support all those putting on events. We have been awarded a small National Lottery grant, and will be seeking additional sponsorship, so that where possible we can financially support events. But expect demand to exceed supply this year!

If you have an idea for an event you would like to organise, or need advice and assistance on finding others in the village who might want to join you in organising an event, please contact us on thefeastfest@gmail.com. New members of our community are especially encouraged to share their personal passion, or to organise an event or activity that interests them. We can provide support and advice.

We are also seeking volunteers to help us organise the overall Feast festival. For example we are seeking a volunteer with social media skills, to help us ensure we can maintain a regular flow of information to everyone through the myriad Facebook pages and other social media used by village residents. Anyone seeking work experience very welcome, as we have professional marketeers among the organisers, and can provide a structured environment to develop workplace skills.

Whatever your interest in helping out, please contact us on: thefeastfest@gmail.com

Roy Payne