Weekend of singing, dancing, storytelling and parades at 35th Whittlesey Straw Bear Festival

11:00 07 January 2014

Straw Bear parade 2013. Whittlesey. Picture: Steve Williams

Straw Bear parade 2013. Whittlesey. Picture: Steve Williams

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The unique spectacle of traditional dancing, music and theatre that makes up Whittlesey’s Straw Bear festival returns for the 35th annual show this weekend.

Straw Bear Festival 2014

Saturday

10.30-10.45am Procession from Manor Leisure Centre, in Station Road, to the Library, in Market Street, via Market Place.

10.45am-noon Amble around Market Street, Market Place and Station Road.

Noon-12.20pm Procession from Market Place to Ivy Leaf Club, Gracious Street, via High Causeway.

1.30-3pm Procession from Ivy Leaf Club to Hero of Aliwal, Briggate East Street, via High Causeway, Market Place, London Street, Letter B pub in Church Street and St Andrew’s Place. Then on to The Boat Inn, Ramsey Road, and returning to Market Place via the Falcon Hotel in London Street and Childer’s Club in Station Road.

3-3.30pm Finale at Market Place, followed by procession from Market Place to Manor Leisure Centre.

Sunday

From Noon Music and dance session - Sir Harry Smith Community College. Free admission. Followed at 2.30pm by the burning of the bear.

4pm Plough service - St Mary’s Church, Station Road.

Concerts, children’s workshops, storytelling and barn dances make up just some of the entertainment of the festival, which starts on Friday evening.

But the highlight is Saturday’s parade, which will feature more than 300 performers and tours the town from 10.30am.

Dance teams from across the region, including morris men and molly dancers, will perform at various locations along the route alongside the straw bears as they are led through the town.

The parade is followed by a barn dance and a Cajun dance in the evening, before the festival closes on Sunday with the traditional burning of the bear at Sir Harry Smith Community College.

Straw Bear parade 2013. Whittlesey. Picture: Steve WilliamsStraw Bear parade 2013. Whittlesey. Picture: Steve Williams

This year’s festival will be the last under the directorship of Paul Cornell.

He said: “It seems like we have just finished clearing up after Straw Bear 2013 and her we are at the next one!

“There are not many changes this year, just a few tweaks here and there, but it will be business as usual for the dancers, crowds and bears, hopefully with a good day weather-wise.

“Is it a job I shall miss? Yes, greatly, as it is a wonderful feeling to see the town full of dancers and musicians and people enjoying themselves and knowing that I have helped to make it all happen.

Festival events

Friday

7.30pm Concert with Jess Morgan, Black* Scarr and Bernard Wrigley - Ivy Leaf Club, Gracious Street. Tickets £10.

Saturday

Noon, 1pm and 2pm Children’s Melodeon Workshop with Bev and Ray Langton - Scaldgate Community Centre, Scaldgate. Three 45-minute sessions for children aged eight and over. Tickets £2.

12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm Storytelling with Peer Optical - Methodist United Reformed Church, Queen Street. Three 45-minute sessions.

12.30-4pm Singing and poetry - Library, Market Street. Poets United 12.30-1.30pm and 3.30-4.30pm; Phil Hare 2-3pm.

8-11.30pm Barn Dance wityh Steam Chicken (caller: Liam Robinson) - Sir Harry Smith Community College. Tickets £10. Bar available.

8-11.30pm Cajun Dance with Creole Brothers - St Andrew’s Hall, Parkinson’s Lane. Tickets £5. Doors open 7.30pm. Bring your own drinks.

Tickets for concerts and dances are available from Ruth Taylor by calling 01733 204055.

“I would like to thank all the people involved in the running of the festival because without the help of the many organisations and volunteers the festival could not go ahead.”

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