A NINE-day celebration of the arts ended in truly festive spirit as thousands of people flocked to Wiveliscombe town centre for a street market and weekend of local food, drink, and entertainments.
The annual 10 Parishes Festival, which ran in Wiveliscombe and the nine surrounding parishes from September 8 to 16, has become a major biennial arts and community event, involving more than 100 artists and more than 150 events.
The weekend’s activities included everything from open art galleries to sculpture gardens, and drama to singing.
On Saturday, West Street, Wiveliscombe, was closed to traffic as an estimated 2,000 people watched the town’s carnival and visited stalls selling a variety of local food, drink, and crafts - plus music and entertainment.
Festival director Pauline Homeshaw said: “It is our third festival and has been better than ever.
“It has grown into a wonderful celebration of art and community. It has been fantastic.
“Now we are looking forward to the next festival.”
The Festival Market - a first for the event - saw local shopkeepers and food and drink producers set up stalls under green and white striped canopies, with everything from chocolate to smoked trout, and local beer and craft cards to jewellery.
People of all ages thronged the street and the nearby The Square to enjoy drinks and food from the stalls and outdoor cafes.
They also sat in Jubilee Gardens and listened to bands, watched Kingsmead Community School drama group, or tried their luck at belly dancing.
A Wheelbarrow Carnival in aid of 10Radio saw 20 barrows parading through the street and to the Recreation Ground, with adults and children dressed in all kinds of inventive garb, preceded by the youngsters of Wellington Majorettes.
Jed and Sam Dove, of Wiveliscombe, won the best float for their ‘Dr Who’ theme.
Stalls did a roaring trade, with many rushing to bring in more stock or selling out, while artists in all nine parishes reported excellent results from their nine days of exhibitions.
One stallholder, Richard Robbins of Nutcombe Chocolates, Minehead, said: “It has been a very relaxed atmosphere, plenty of people, a very nice variety of stalls with local shops involved too - I have really enjoyed the day.”
Tim and Carrie Parker, of Wiveliscombe, said: “There was a great crowd, tremendous stalls, and it was good to see so many people enjoying themselves and meeting up with friends. We were very impressed.”
Throughout the weekend other events and exhibitions carried on around the parishes of Ashbrittle, Bathealton, Brompton Ralph, Chipstable and Waterrow, Clatworthy, Fitzhead, Huish Champflower, Milverton, and Stawley.
For one of the youngest exhibitors, Sam Jeffs, aged 18, who had just completed a National Diploma in Fine Art, at Somerset College, it was an opportunity to have his work seen and his Minotaur made from scrap metal was a landmark piece at the Spring Grove Market Gardens, in Milverton.
Bathealton saw a constant stream of visitors to see the Ark Has Landed - 25 pairs of animals created by villagers, as well as the colourful silk banners around the church and paintings by well known professional artists, including Tilly Willis and Antonia Myatt.
With drama, writing, and workshop events throughout the weekend, the festival celebration ended on a high on Sunday night with The Demon Barbers, a nationally known vocal harmony cabaret show, an event which was sponsored by Wiveliscombe and District Rotary Club.
More information about the festival can be found by logging on to http://www.10parishesfestival.org.uk/ or calling 01984 624564.