Heptonstall Festival this year has a major emphasis on children, families and the community.
As the village has emerged from months under the tyranny of heavy vehicles thundering through, Saturday, September 21 will be a traffic-free day of make believe and fun.
The whole morning and lunchtime will be themed around Alice in Wonderland. Villagers and visitors alike can join the Queen of Hearts’ barmy army. It will be time to get lost in Lewis Carroll’s topsy turvy tale of doors too small for keys too big, ‘Drink me’ potions and Bread and Butterflies.
Who do we know who grins like the Cheshire Cat or is as illusive as the White Rabbit? Which neighbour is as eccentric as the Mad Hatter or as fiery as the Red Queen? Which children and which parents will be what, and who will the Queen’s Card Guards be?
The barmy army and camp followers will gather at Heptonstall School at 10.30 to be greeted by the Queen of Hearts, (local actress Ursula Holden Gill) and the White Rabbit (Sonia from Canopy Arts) together with the school’s Parent and Friends Association.
The Queen will give her Card Guards a final warming up prior to their long march. A Mad Hatter (Sydney Roper) will no doubt make a nuisance of himself.
Then, led by the Red Rose New Orleans Band from Preston, the Queen will march her barmy army through the village streets to finish up in the old church ruins. Once the army enters, the stalls will open, the giant bluebells will be hung and the fun begins.
The Queen and her entourage will hand on the giant teapot and cups to CBeebies’ Mr Bloom, who will open the proceedings and unveil all manner of treats for us all - music, dancing and an awful lot of homemade cakes!
The children will perform the composition they have created during the previous week.
Everyone should come with blankets and baskets filled with goodies for a Mad Hatters Tea Party (which, being in Wonderland, will be at lunchtime!). The Red Rose band will hand over to Tim O’Connor and Des Horsfall from the musical melting pot of Manchester, who will entertain the tea party and carry us through into the afternoon.
The Heptonstall Wonderland will not just have started on September 21. For many days before, festival teams will have been working with the children, their families and teachers in both Colden and Heptonstall Schools to make the dreams come true.
In Heptonstall School, the whole curriculum in the week before the festival will have been devoted to music, design and costume making. In Colden School, this will have happened at drop-in sessions at the after-school club. A festival arts team of Mimi Faulks, Jo Harris, Chrissy from Hat Therapy and Mel Daniels, the Dramasaurus teacher, will have worked with the children to make all their wonderful Wonderland costumes.
Romily Meredith will have helped with the giant teapot and teacup; and Sandra McCracken will have assisted the making of giant willow bluebells. Ursula Holden Gill and Sonia from Canopy Arts will also have helped the children develop the drama and action for the day.
The Card Guards will have been drilled to perfection, and everyone will have warmed up for Wonderland and brushed up on their fun procession poses. Composer Katie Chatburn, will have helped the children compose the music that they would then perform on the day at the Mad Hatters Tea Party.
At Colden School, the festival team will have been joined by Jo Wells and parent Sarah Regan.
- A key part of the festival is the bunting. Local people have been designing flags for “I Spy with my Little Eye” and creating images of distant views, like Stoodley Pike or Pecket Well, or close up, like a robin, a tree in the garden, members of the family, or Grandpa’s hands.
The flags will debut this year and will continue to grow and decorate local events for years to come.
So, dear reader, have you yet made your bunting. If not, get to it, or it will be off with your heads!