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Beaminster Festival 2019 Review Blog by Lois Pearson, Artistic Director for Beaminster Festival

It was fantastic that so many more people participated in all that the Beaminster Festival had to offer in June 2019.  Moving the free opening event to the Memorial Playing Fields, morphing into Party in the Park, proved a great success and about 1000 people including many young families loved the sunshine, the food and drink, the safety and freedom for their kids to run around and the great music from Scoot and the Phoenix band. This is certainly something to be repeated next year.  The other really family friendly event, again free, was the Family BBQ and Picnic, with a BBQ run by the Cricket Club, lots of entertainment for the children running throughout the afternoon, Arcadia Jazz Band and more music from the Youth Club. Again, we were blessed with the weather and it was a lovely afternoon of family fun.

In addition to these there were many other events for those in our community who may not be able to get out so much.  The parents and toddlers had a very entertaining hour with Julia on guitar at Walk in Wednesday, and the Playgroup joined St Mary’s Academy choir and some seniors for an Intergenerational Singalong.  St Mary’s Academy, Perrott Hill, Mountjoy and Beaminster School all performed at the Pre-coffee Concerts much to the delight of the regular concert goers who loved seeing the youngsters show off their talents. Mountjoy and St Mary’s had great fun with Mike Hayes giving Steel Pans Workshops, and all the local schools enjoyed an exciting concert by Ferio, a wacky saxophone quartet. Beaminster School also had a visit from Sam Willis and James Daybell who gave a very entertaining show called Histories of the Unexpected.

All the schools contributed to the Visual Arts Exhibition which again was free for anyone to visit, as was the Museum during Festival week.
We really try to put on events for seniors who cannot get out very often and in addition to the Singalong at St Mary’s Gardens, there was a Songs and Scones afternoon, a session of Melodies for Memories and a very special treat a trip to visit Horn Park Gardens with coffee and cakes.

Apart from a couple of donations for which we are very grateful, all these events were funded by money raised by the Festival specifically for the Beaminster community.  But proof of how much concert goers regard the importance of music to our youngsters was made clear by the spectacular £2500 raised in 3 days to buy a piano for Beaminster School.  The main core of the Festival continues to be theatre, literary events and music, performed by artists of the highest calibre and this year we had some stunning performances from artists, one as young as 17, the BBC Young Musician.  The festival has a reputation of presenting a rich and varied programme with tickets of reasonable price.  People visit Beaminster from far afield and even stay for the week to indulge in a week of excellence.  The spin off for the town is a greater buzz and considerably busier pubs, shops and restaurants so it’s a win-win situation for all.

The Festival is in a healthy state and can be seen to be beneficial to the whole community – but it is run by a relatively small number of hardworking volunteers and we are actively recruiting for next year and would particularly welcome the younger generation.  Next year will be our 25th anniversary, so please, if you have some hours to spare, please do offer to give a hand and the festival will become even more representative of our thriving community!