Straw Bear Festival
The fantastic festivities of the traditional Straw Bear Festival return to Whittlesea next weekend (10 to 12 January).
Now in its 35th year, the first major locAl event of 2014 takes place next weekend as hundreds of Morris dancers, musicians, performing artists, folk singers and entertainers will join up for the festivities which have roots originating back to the 19th century.
The festival will be particularly special for founder and principal organiser Brian Kell, as last year he was awarded with the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his service towards the festival over many years.
The events begin on Friday at the Ivy Leaf Club from 8pm, with a concert featuring singer-songwriter Jess Morgan, Black* Scarr, and Bernard Wrigley. The Saturday procession begins at 10.30am from Manor Leisure Centre, making its way through the town centre before finishing where it started at around 3.30pm.
Along the way there are various stop-offs at Whittlesey pubs including the Letter B, Hero of Aliwal, The Ram, New Crown, the Boat Inn, and Ivy Leaf Club and the Falcon. Various strands of dancing include Cotswold Morris Dancing, Molly Dancing (an East Anglian form of Morris), North West Clog Dancing, British Linked Sword Dancing, and Appalachian dancing.
And there are also numerous events elsewhere, including children’s melodeon workshops at 12pm, 1pm and 2pm in Scaldgate Community and Youth Centre, storytelling with Peter Optical (12.30pm. 1.30pm and 2.30pm) at Methodist United Reformed Church, and singing and poetry at the library from 12.30pm to 4.30pm with Phil Hare and Poets United.
Saturday night’s alright for dancing at Sir Harry Smith Community College and St Andrew’s Hall in Parkinsons Lane. Steam Chicken are the guests at a barn dance at the College, while the Creole Brothers will entertain at a Cajun Dance at St Andrew’s Hall (both 8pm, tickets £10 each)
On the Sunday Sir Harry Smith Community College starts off the final day of celebrations with a music and dance session from 12pm, concluded by the Straw Bear Bonfire at 2.30pm.A plough service will take place at St Mary’s Church at 4pm.