The winter beer and food festival was a fantastic success again this year, riding high no-doubt on the news that Belper had become the overall winner of the Great British High Street 2014.
One of the things that marks out these type of events is the great sense of the community enjoying rubbing shoulders with itself and others visiting from further afield.
The churches provide a small but significant facility on this particular occasion each year. The Town Council provides a couple of gazebos for us to shelter from the cold breeze, enabling tired children to enjoy free Christmas based crafts. Everything from shepherd masks to 3D Christmas trees are made and brightly decorated, whilst parents get to stand and chat or have a go themselves!
It is always very enjoyable to take part on the Hope for Belper team for this event, so as we approach next year’s festival do think about a stint on the H4B stand yourself – no special skills required just a friendly and encouraging face.
The second Belper Goes Green Eco Festival hit town at the end of May just as the weather turned from very wet to beautifully sunny!
The greener fingered among the church congregations had spent the previous few weeks nurturing tomato seedlings among other things ready for the festival weekend.
The Hope marquee housed a temporary nursery, encouraging youngsters to get enthusiastic about growing things. Over the Saturday of the festival weekend around 150 children dragged willing (to varying degrees) parents in to our tent and got their hands in to some lovely compost, repotting the seedlings in to larger plant pots and taking them away in the hope of juicy tomatoes to come.
We also had an excellent array of fair trade products for sale and a display about what goes in to one of ‘The Basic Idea’ food parcels.
Particular mention should go to Gareth Stoddart for rescuing us with the erection and dismantling of the Hope marquee – one of these days we’ll actually make sense of the labelling. Thank you also to all those who helped out on the day (in particular our very own Percy Thrower in Kate Greenwood), but also to all who had a go at the growing.
Belper’s Winter Food & Real Ale Festival is rapidly becoming an event not to be missed. Many hundreds of folk poured in to the town centre and consequently there were many tired little ones in their parents wake.
Folks from across the churches under the banner of Hope for Belper were on hand for a third year to provide the opportunity for kids to enjoy some Christmas related crafts – tree decorations, cards and masks galore were produced and there have never been so many Marys, Josephs and Shepherds wondering the high street!
Hope for Belper Street Angels were also at the stand, chatting about their support for people finding themselves vulnerable in the wee small hours of a Friday night in town.
It was again a privilege to come alongside the council in working for and loving our town together.
Belper’s 2nd Winter Food Festival went ahead with nearly double the number of stall holders participating – we enjoyed a very cold spell of seasonal weather that weekend, but it certainly didn’t stop neighbours from across the town and beyond, wrapping up and coming out to browse and enjoy meeting up with old friends.
In our busy lives, these communal dates in the calendar are certainly great opportunities not just to enjoy all that local traders and producers have to offer, but also a time to connect maybe even just once a year with old friends, catching up with their news in a kind of face to face round robin replacement! There is something that feels quite medieval about such a street scene.
The children’s activities that Hope for Belper provided were very busily taken up, especially over the morning and due to the nature of some of the craft options to hand meant that we were able to have some good conversations with parents – plenty of interest was shown in the display materials, with special interest in developments to both the Street Angels and The Basic Idea projects.
Personally, I fulfilled one of my ambitions, which was meeting someone who lives well ok, works) in Halfway in Sheffield – never take the tram it only promises to take you ‘Halfway’!
Alternatively, in partnership with the Town Council, St Peter’s Church are hosting a ‘Jubilee Street Party’ on their tree lined drive, to which everyone is welcome.
Keep your eyes peeled for further details around the town, but the idea is that the party will run from 12pm until 3pm on Monday the 4th June, with each family, couple or single person bringing picnic food for themselves plus one other.