Wiltshire Publications

Westbury Festival was the ‘best ever’ with amazing support of the town

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THE Westbury Festival is over for another year – and what a festival it was! 

Chair of the Festival, Ian Cunningham, says it can claim to be the best ever, particularly as it was organised in such difficult times, and he has paid tribute to the local community for its ‘amazing support’.

The Festival kicked off in grand style with the Wiltshire Chilli Fest on Saturday 24th September, organised by Westbury Town Council, and finished with a memorable sellout show on Saturday night, featuring Fromage En Feu – Bristol’s very own faux-French Band; The Frukes a 14-piece Ukulele group; the Towpath Singers and Wiltshire singer/songwriter guitarist Harmony Asia.  There were even cameo performances from Westbury’s own Leander Morales and Festival chair Ian Cunningham as the masked ventriloquist!

“I am delighted at how the festival went this year,” said Ian. “I think it may have some claim to have been our best ever – especially given all the challenges around organising a festival during a lockdown, with all kinds of restrictions in place and that, for much of the year, might not even have happened at all.

“The support from Westbury was amazing – we had more sell-outs than ever before.

“It is very difficult to pick out highlights when there was so much that was so good – talks, crafting, music, poetry, kids events, theatre.

“The kick-off day with the town council’s incredible Wiltshire Chilifest and the brilliant Aldbourne brass band set us up for 15 days of superlatives.

“The free daily Little Lunch Music concerts in All Saints were excellent, with a great variety of  performers keen to be back in front of appreciative audiences; it was good to see the church full of people again. I must acknowledge the dedication of Mary Pyne for her herculean work in arranging and managing the series in this difficult year and All Saints Church for their support.

“Our “big ticket” events, The Yorkshire Shepherdess, Oh Mary, the Tenby Duo and the Palm Court evening with Trio Paradis were all fantastic and well-supported. 

“The atmosphere at so many events was special – for example, the Bumnotes and Water Thieves, kindly hosted by the West End Baptist Church, was just a delightful evening of fun, as was the vintage film & cream tea afternoon. The craft events, including many offered by our wonderful box office partners, Spacecraft, were all sold out; the inspiring Louise Williams even persuaded me to paint a bargeware style (very loosely styled in my case) jug at the Castle and Roses event. 

“A variety of  entertaining and educating talks, including these arranged by the library and the Westbury Heritage Society, proved more popular than ever.

“But personally, I am still buzzing from the finale show put together by long-term festival supporter and friend, Leander Morales of GM3music; I think it was one of the most remarkable shows I have seen in Westbury and I won’t forget it.

“I pass on the grateful thanks for the committee to all the performers and presenters who made such a memorable festival this year.

“There are loads of other people to thank. including volunteers like Jane and Graham Lever who stewarded at the Little Lunch Music, Sally Hendry, and unfortunate spouses who get made honorary committee members – particularly Stephen and Nick Pyne (bar and all kinds of fetching and ferrying) and Linda Jones; I won’t try to name everyone here as I am sure to  miss someone and I assume that you need space in your paper for other news, but all have our thanks.

“Finally though, I must get our small committee to take a bow:  Radek Evans, Peter Hiscock, Ward Jones, Debbie Kerfoot, Michael Pearce, Michael Piri-Thorne,  Brenda Pyne, Mary Pyne, Jane Russ and John Wheeler (who produced that amazing Chilifest film) all contributed in innumerable ways to making all this happen. I’d particularly like to thank our stalwart secretary, Brenda Pyne, who did so much extra work this year (even more than her usual massive contribution) because of the need to organise much remotely and keep us all on track without us ever being in the same room.

“Thank you, team, thank you Westbury

“If the festival has inspired you to get involved, we are always looking for committee members, volunteers around festival time, ideas for events and we want to hear from groups that might like to host an event during the festival. Please contact me at Chair@WestburyFestival.org.uk ”

3 Responses to Westbury Festival was the ‘best ever’ with amazing support of the town

  1. Maggie Dee

    October 12, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    New to the area, I had not heard of the Westbury Festival until I chanced upon one of it’s brochures at WCRfm, probably left there by Ian Cunningham.
    Seeing that the Yorkshire Shepherdess was due to give a talk, I scurried along to the Laverton – never mind that I didn’t have a ticket! Luckily I secured a spare ticket from one of the audience and to my great delight Amanda Owen gave me the interview I was hoping for, after the event.
    How many of us knew that she began her shepherdessing here in this area of Wiltshire?
    Maggie-in-the-Mix, Warminster Community Radio

  2. Viv Hill

    October 14, 2021 at 9:54 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with the comments above. The festival has shown Westbury to be supportive in Arts events, both the free and paid for. Leader Morales is to be congratulated on the production of the finale, but I found his comments regarding the lack of support by Westbury people rather strange.

  3. Jonathan Street

    October 17, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    Agree with both the comments posted.
    The events during the festival, free and paid, were well supported by the good folk of Westbury and its environs.
    Perhaps it’s not apposite to grandstand personal politics during events though, or chastise an audience for perceived ill manners.

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