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Kettle Bridge made their annual pilgrimage to the Chippenham Folk Festival held over the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend. We were spread across a range of accommodation in the local area, including a large contingent in the official Chippenham camp site and a group at Biddestone split between a self-catering cottage and a B&B.
The Saturday dawned bright and breezy and there was no sign of the rain showers that had been forecast. The Biddestone mob arrived at the car park in Chippenham in plenty of time, which was just as well, as the "roadie" had to be dispatched back to Biddestone to retrieve a forgotten but vital instrument. Luckily there were still some places left in the car park on his return.
We congregated at various coffee shops before getting together for the 11:00 stand at the Market Square with Bristol Morris. There was an excellent surface to dance on and plenty of room although there was a slight slope to contend with.
12:30 saw us down at the bottom of the High Street sharing a stand with Ditchling Morris. There was just a brief break to grab a quick bite and dump our stuff behind the stage before it was back up the hill to congregate for the Parade which started at 14:00. The ever-versatile roadie was persuaded to carry the side's festival banner alongside the normal Kettle Bridge one.
The Parade featured more than 30 sides and various extras such as stilt walkers. The column made its way from the Library and down the High Street past the very appreciative crowds that lined the streets. At the bottom of the town, we turned right into the festival area and through the arena. On finishing dancing, we grabbed our "gear" from behind the stage and made our way back up the hill. It's a good job that all the dancers and musicians are so young and fit!
Our 15:00 stand was conveniently located outside Starbucks with Wrecker's Morris, a mixed border side from Cornwall. This was the only occasion that we had to wait for the previous sides to finish. The organisers of the day's events and the participating sides must be commended for how smoothly it all went apart from this isolated incident.
Our last stand was at 16:30 with the well-respected Hammersmith Morris. They obviously enjoyed our stand based on the heckling and flirting that went on (from both sides!) and they seemed interested in meeting up again to dance out together. Despite the long and arduous day, Kettle Bridge gave this last stand their all and obviously impressed the audience as we also received a possible invite to Dartmoor (the Folk Festival rather than the prison, I hope!).
The skill of the dancers was graphically illustrated when Tricia's clog buckle broke and Val stepped in to replace her without anyone noticing. Our finale was the usual Yellow Rose danced with all the remaining energy that the dancers could summon up to send the crowd home happy.
We then all dispersed to the various parts of Chippenham and surrounding areas for a well-earned rest. The Biddestone contingent enjoyed a sumptuous meal at The White Horse in the village, luckily walking distance back to the accommodation. During the meal, Val was presented with a T-shirt commemorating her aerobatic display at Whitstable.
Sunday was a rest day but we were all looking forward to the following day's events.
On Monday, it rained ...
and rained ...
and rained ...
Undeterred, we all congregated in Coffee Central coffee shop in an attempt to dry out, share soggy dog stories and decide what to do next. As there was no prospect of us dancing in the torrential rain, it was decided to call it a day and float our way home.
Yes, it does always rain at Chippenham!