Now the glitter has settled, the squeezebox is stowed and the pink boas have been packed away, it is time for reflection on the 2017 Knaresborough feva festival of entertainment and visual arts.
Was it the best ever? Many seem to think so. It was certainly the biggest with 74 events, 17 art shows and 9 menu offerings written up in the event programme, plus another half-dozen that were organised after the print date. During the 10 days of feva from 11 to 20 August you could hardly fail to find something to do.
People came from miles around to enjoy what was on offer. There is something special about being the only market town festival in the whole county to be held in August. Whisper it quietly: it has enabled feva to prosper and draws in larger numbers each year.
As is intended, children, with parents and grandparents in tow, found much to distract themselves. There were free shows on every day. Older people found music all around – folk, classical, choral and rock.
There were plays, dance performances, recitals, walks, talks, workshops and open days. The festival featured the Lions’ annual beer festival, special feva dinners, the picnic in the park and the wonderful urban beach at Henshaws. If you wanted to eat and drink, experience artwork, laugh, love and have something to listen to during these dog days of August, Knaresborough was the place to be.
Apart from being a single source of great activity during the school summer holidays, feva is popular because so much is either free or available at very low entry prices. It was ever thus! The festival has grown out of a celebration of folk music events with the idea of putting on a fun and accessible series of entertainments for the folk of Knaresborough and surrounding areas. It is a people’s festival.
Back at the turn of the millennium an organising committee was formed to create feva. Then as now it was composed purely by volunteers. The festival sets out to put on free and ticketed events, staged both by this group and by independent organisers whose shows are publicised under the festival’s banners. Henshaws, the Town Council, Frazer Theatre and the Tourist Information Office all have membership on the feva committee, as do other groups that are formed from time to time, such as the John Metcalf commemoration team in 2017.
The festival is not-for-profit and any surplus funds from ticket sales is ploughed back into future events. Luckily, in 2017 many ticketed events were sold out which helped organisers recoup losses sustained the year before. So, after the success of this year we can firmly state that the festival’s finances remain solidly in the feva pink.
Sponsorship is very important and special thanks go to the Knaresborough Town Council, CNG and the Knaresborough Lions for their financial support. Other feva backers are W Bowers Funeral Directors, Darnworth & Co, The Distance, Printzone, Knaresborough Now, BBC Radio York, Stray FM, FTAV and the Knaresborough Chamber of Trade.
For the most part, it is a whole-town effort which makes feva such a success.
Good weather helped, especially with the urban beach and picnic in the park, and by-and-large the days of the 2017 festival were fine and dry. But in any case, local folk are hardy souls and are not put off by the odd bit of mizzle!
Feva is the perfect platform for local talent with activities such as at the Busk Stop, where young performers can come along, and the open mike sessions at the urban beach at Henshaws. At the latter venue this year, a wonderful new talent in 11-year old Leo Hicks was unveiled. Children as young as three and four took part in various dance events organised by Studio 3, captivating the huge turnout at the Castle for the Wizard of Oz. We start them early in Knaresborough and, clearly, the future of feva is in very safe hands.
The award-winning Knaresborough Silver Band performing outside the Lions’ Beer Festival, showed again why they are one of the most sought-after bands in the north. Choristers from St John’s Church, Cadenza and the Knaresborough Choral Society provided blissful harmonies, and the classical music ensembles of Knaresborough Pro Musica and Arioso ensured that there was a wide array of different strands of entertainment on offer.
The Knaresborough Mummers reminded us all of the town’s history, while traditional dance groups such as Hornbeam Molly, Flag and Bone Gang, Clogarhythm and Betty Lupton’s Ladle Laikers showed traditional dance remains strong.
This year’s festival gave opportunity to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the birth of John Metcalf – aka Blind Jack of Knaresborough – with music from his era, talks about his life, art shows, singing and the display of his restored fiddle. The BBC came to town to register the special events going on for Blind Jack’s birthday. Much was centred, appropriately enough, on the arts and crafts centre at Henshaws.
With so many painters, sculptors and artists of all kinds getting a chance to stage public displays there was much to show just how rich a seam of bright talent exists in Knaresborough. There is no doubt that feva does more than just reflect this; the festival actively nurtures artistic and musical expression by being showcased at well-attended events.
An estimation of the numbers of those taking part as performers, painters and back-stage operators, organisers, managers, jugglers, dancers and in many other roles shows that there is anywhere up to a thousand people who grasp the opportunity provided to perform at feva. Many thousands more sit in the audiences, taste the food and beer, visit the shows, attend the picnic and play on the beach.
So, as we put away our finery in the feva dressing-up box (by now the size of a small mountain) we say to one and all, ‘roll on next year!’
* Feva survives on its shoestrings thanks to the generous support of sponsors, strong ticket sales and voluntary collections. It is run by volunteers and prospers through the contribution of ‘Friends of feva,’ who pay £10 a year to be individual members and £50 as corporate members. Should you wish to become a Friend or if you would like to know more about helping to organise the Festival please use the Contact page to reach us.