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Village Green Review
Village Green Review
I have a lot to thank Village Green for. If it wasn’t for this lively annual festival in Chalkwell Park, I may not have moved to Leigh-on-Sea at all. In 2012, we stumbled across this small and unassuming festival on a beautiful warm and sunny day. There were just a few stalls, lots of music and a wonderful buzz and sense of community. It made me fall in love with Leigh even more and, within a few weeks, we had moved to the area. There is a warm place in my heart for Village Green.
It has now grown into a much bigger and glitzier affair and this local event still knows how to pack a punch. With a mix of music acts, theatre, poetry, art, dance displays, circus cabaret, stalls, comedy and games, there is literally something for everyone.
Billed as a family-friendly festival, I could think of no excuse not to take my 5 and 7-year-old along for the ride. There is a piece of me that wanted to relive my youth and turn up in boho chic and drink copious amounts of cider but, alas, I find myself holding tightly onto little hands, weaving through the crowds, seeking out the ‘child friendly’ areas with a month’s supply of snacks, sun-cream and wipes.
We started off at the Teatro Verdi stage and caught the wonderfully vibrant sounds of local singing group 4 & 20 Blackbirds. I love that local groups and organisations get to showcase their work and be a part of the action, cementing the local community spirit. We jumped from there to the tennis courts for an impromptu round of tennis. Clearly this involved Boy 1 aimlessly swinging his racket in all directions and was cut short when Boy 2 got hit on the head by a passing ball. Still, we live and learn.
As I stared longingly at the beer tent, I was dragged by the kids into the Mini Green area, a chill out area, populated by hyper children and tired looking parents. This was a great place to sit and let the kids be entertained. One of the highlights was the simple tunnel of cardboard boxes that the kids scrambled through for literally hours! Who knew they were so easy to entertain? Playdoh, messy play, Lego and tree climbing, it was kiddie heaven! The mini green stage burst intermittently into life with fantastic entertainers and allowed the kids to bust some moves. And the adults? We got to sit on a rug, chat, eat the kid’s crisps and Jammie Dodgers whilst listening to the music hum in the air. It was pretty fantastic. Can I suggest a beer tent in the corner for next year? Irresponsible you say? Ah yes…
There was a rumour that Andy from CBeebies had been spotted down The Avenue so we gathered up the kids and went star hunting. Sadly, no sign but we got side-tracked by the Jacqson Diego Story Emporium where the kids got to sample spoken, performed, written and imagined stories in the story tents. We stood on the threshold and enjoyed the music blasting out of the beach hut stage, interlaced with the squeals of laughter from the kids. It was a heady combination.
With every great festival comes an even greater queue for the porter loos but the well organised line up did give me half an hour to enjoy the Idea13 Stage. It was quite a culture shock walking from the quiet confounds of the kids zone to the full on festival vibe. People were drinking, dancing and have a bloody fantastic time. The highlight? The small fight that broke out nearby, resulting in flying acrylic nails and hair extensions. The lows? The need to hover 5cms above the toilet to avoid any direct contact with the seat. It was festival chic at its very best.
By now the ‘youths’ were out in force and I marvelled what a wonderfully safe environment to let you teenagers roam free without being too far from home. I suddenly felt my age.
OK, so I didn’t see Billy Bragg or Tiggs Da Author but I did get to ring my imaginary bell on the story train with Mrs H and the Sing-Along Band and pull, Pull, PULL out the imaginary turnip with international story teller, Mike Dodsworth. Despite an awkward incident involving Boy 2, a stick and a man on stilts, everything went off without a hitch. We stumbled home in a euphoric haze of ice cream, beer and ringing ears.
We are so incredibly lucky to have an organisation like Metal delivering such an amazing and well organised festival for us all to enjoy. We all had a truly wonderful day and I can’t wait to go back again next year. Thank you!