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If you wanted to celebrate all things English, what would you definitely include? Top of the list is obviously morris dancers, followed closely by showery weather. Well the organisers of the English Festival, which was held at the Riverside Country Park, managed to arrange both. Mind you, I think it was rather tempting fate to locate it in Lower Rainham.
There were three themed zones covering The Countryside, Iconic England and an English Village Square. We were allocated to the latter area along with the Kent Police Band and Kits Coty morris. Thankfully, there was a good dancing surface for us to perform on, between the bandstand and the WI Tea Tent.
The rain that had greeted us gradually relented, and, by the time of our first performance at 12:00, it had completely stopped. The first stand featured Churchtown, Marston 6 and Prescot. The most important thing to mention is that this was the first time that Wendy had danced out with Kettle Bridge. She did really well and we all hope that this marks the start of a long and enjoyable career in Andy Pandy stripes.
We also had the support of Mrs. Galaxy UK, Tanya Collins, who is from Kent, and who watched our performance with interest. On her profile, she lists her main likes as animals, travelling and cake. This makes her ideally suited to join Kettle Bridge as a dancer, where the main requirements are being kind to dumb animals (or "The Band" as we sometimes call them), going all over the country and beyond to perform, and consuming copious amounts of tea and cake. Anyway, we wish Tanya the very best of luck in the Galaxy International pageant in Florida in July where she is representing the United Kingdom.
The break between stands offered the opportunity to wander round the festival and grab a bite to eat. There was much to see including farm animals, sheep shearing, motor displays, a helter skelter and, most importantly, plenty of refreshment stalls. The beer and cider stands proved very popular and the fresh-baked pies, pastries and cookies were as delicious as they looked — I can vouch for that from personal experience — and there was a convenient picnic area where we could consume our lunch.
Suitably refreshed and with the sun finally making an appearance, it was time for our second stand. Performances of KBC Processional and Cossington were followed by an opportunity for audience participation in the shape of Churchtown. As usual, there were plenty of volunteers of all ages who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience.
There was a break between the second and third set of performances and, as we were located right outside the WI Tea Tent and Kettle Bridge Clogs contains a fair few WI members within its ranks, it seemed almost impolite not to sample the wares on offer — and we were not disappointed. There were plenty of delicious cakes for sale and this provided an energy boost for the final stand of the day, which featured Saint Helens Gala, Sidcot and finally Annie's.
Then it was time to make our way back to our cars for the drive home in glorious sunshine. However, there are a number of "thank you"s to say.
Firstly to the organisers for inviting us to perform and to the local people for their support.
Next, I must mention Mary B who tirelessly worked the crowd, selling badges and handing out leaflets. This is vital work that helps to raise our profile and always aids recruitment.
Last but not least is the band who, though short-handed, played on magnificently. Without you, where would we be? I would have to find another target for my insults, for one thing!
As a footnote, I would like to bring your attention to the work of Jack Paton who took some wonderful photographs of the event and Kettle Bridge Clogs in particular. Click here to see some great shots.