GALLERY: Smurfs, singing and smiles as hundreds flock to March Summer Festival... despite rain

THE rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the March Summer Festival audience who bravely turned out for the finale concert by the RAF Wyton Voluntary Band on Sunday, writes MAUREEN JAMES, chairman of March Summer Festival Committee.

Thousands of people had come to the park to enjoy the entertainments over the weekend including the Gala, the fairground rides, the children’s activities and the stage events.

The March Summer Festival opened on Friday evening with ‘Rock in the Park’ sponsored by the Co-op, and 16-year-old Jana Metcalf from Chatteris performing an acoustic set of her own very moving songs, followed by some lively performances by Hindsight, The Polymers, Death Radio, Social Status and Emcoil.

The audience was down on last year but still very lively with lots of “moshing” in the mosh pit in front of the newly constructed MOJO type barriers!

Saturday dawned bright and sunny for the March Lions Gala, co-ordinated by Graham Litchfield, and the park filled with people to enjoy the delights of the many charity and car boot stalls, funfair rides and other attractions.

Just after noon, thousands of people lined the streets to watch the Gala Parade, organised Reg Kemp and led by the Cambridgeshire Caledonian Pipe Band, followed by the Gala Princess Olivia Carpenter and her Attendant Lucie Cross, and the Mayor of March, Cllr Bernard Keane and his wife Sylvia.

Also taking part were the Fenland Youth Theatre, Farcet Twist and Twirl Majorettes, Vivien the vintage fire engine, the Arco Iris Samba Band, the Bernese Mountain Dogs and the many other groups and individuals.

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Back at West End Park, the event was opened by the Mayor and presentations were made to the winners of the parade The Skoulding Trophy to the Best Group – Sarah’s Street Style Dance and the Mallett Trophy for best individual Alan Kepton, looking uncannily like Winston Churchill.

The Fancy Dress competition then took place, judged by Melanie Phillips. Prizes were presented to Lyla Fuller as Miss Great Britain, Joshua Wilding as Friar Tuck and Sae-arna and Lauren Crane as the Oompa-Loompas.

Record crowds had gathered by this time in front of the open air stage to watch the afternoon performances by the ever popular Lisa Dickinson’s Dance Mania, Fenland Has Talent winner Oliver Griffen, Sarah’s Street Style Dancers, and duo Tom Harlock and Aimee Peart-Webb.

As the afternoon turned into evening and the gala stalls closed down, thousands of people continued to sit in front of the stage to enjoy Pop in the Park with some wonderful first appearances at the festival by Crash ‘n’ Burn, the DUDI crew and the Bare Bones Boogie Band.

On Sunday morning the weather was damp for the Picnic in the Park but not enough to stop people coming along to enjoy the delights of March Brass 2000 and Fenjazz. They were followed by skilful acoustic sets by Strangeworld and Bondy.

By this time the audience was at its smallest because it was raining quite heavily. During the afternoon the rain did not however stop the children from enthusiastically taking part in the circus skills workshop with crown Adrian Ley, colouring competition with Penny Hicks and listening to stories told by Cambridge Storyteller Malcolm Busby (sponsored by Spectacular Opticians).

Malcolm and Adrian also judged the colouring competition which was won by Keira Gamble (first) and Alfie Sheriff (runner up) in the under seven category, Luke Glover (first) and Siobhan Haliday (runner up) eight to 10 year olds and Autumn Wilding (first) and Carrigan Asher (runner up) for over 11s. Winners received Tatty Teddies and sweets sponsored by Greetings and Carte Blanche.

Sunday evening saw the rain easing slightly and the concert by the RAF Wyton Voluntary Band went ahead as planned, but with a reduced set and no interval.

Organisers said that “after 11 years of glorious weather we have been very lucky. A decision was made to go ahead with the concert despite the wind and rain and a small valiant group of people attended to wave their flags and join in the rousing choruses of Land of Hope and Glory, Jerusalem and Rule Britannia, with the band”.

The March Summer Festival Committee has promised that next year plans will be put in place for a wet weather venue for the finale concert so that festival goers do not have to do their singing in the rain.

During the evening the Grand prize draw took place. Winners were as follows: J Darwood (Weekend Break at a Wetherspoons Hotel); D Gilbody (Meal for four at the Hippodrome); Mr & Mrs B Friend (�50 Wrights Tool Hire Voucher); A Dudley (UK Towbars – two bar mounted cycle carrier); M Naughton (two meals at Ye Olde Griffin); J McAlister (meal for two at the Shah Jahan); P Stocks (carvery meal for two at Cassano’s); Daniel M (carvery meal at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel); L Trueman (�30 voucher for The Ship); L Fuller (�20 Stardust voucher); M Greenall (meal for two at The Stars); M Lazdina (Chet Baker CD from WMS Music).

The March Summer Festival Committee would also like to thank John Whitehead (the MC); the stallholders; the parade participants and the numerous volunteers who helped run the event and businesses who have given help and sponsorship, including The Oliver Cromwell Hotel for providing refreshments.

It would also like to say that help is always welcome for future festivals and if you would like to do so, please get in touch via town council clerk Clive Lemmon at the Town Hall on 01354 653709.

The March Summer Festival is made possible by grants from March Town Council, Fenland District Council and PRS for Music. This year we once again received generous sponsorship from Next Steps Community Care and Secure Design. More information of the festival including photographs will soon be found at

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