So, that was feva 2017

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.

Knitting Pretty wins feva’s Best Dressed Premises award

Wool shop Knitting Pretty, located on Castlegate, won this year’s Best Dressed Premises award for its 2017 Knaresborough feva festival display. The award, presented annually, was won last year by McQueen’s Coffee Shop and by Floral Décor in 2015.

In our photo taken by Tracey Kilner at the trophy presentation are Diane Watson, proprietor of Knitting Pretty, Lynsey Gallant, Nigel Perry from the feva committee, Katie Arthur, Sarah Johnson and Elizabeth Gaston. Lynsey, Katie, Sarah and Elizabeth helped Diane by knitting and crocheting elements of the window display.

Missimp: Hit or Miss? Definitely HIT!

Missimp Improvised Action Comedy Theatre – upstairs at the Frazer Theatre – Sunday August 20

As the Edinburgh Festival more or less bleeds the UK dry of comic talent during August, comedy has always been in rather short supply at FEVA. It was therefore a great treat to be able to welcome Nottingham’s Missimp improv troupe, for an afternoon visit on the last day of the festival.

Missimp have been to town before, playing a Star Wars themed show at the Frazer in 2016. This time around, a trimmed-down line-up of four players – Di, Emily, Jamie and Parky – performed in the theatre’s underused upstairs studio space. The intimacy of the room worked in everyone’s favour, narrowing the gap between the artists and the audience, and creating just the sort of relaxed atmosphere where improvisation can truly thrive.

The beauty of Missimp’s approach lies in its uniqueness. Nothing is scripted in advance, and all the scenes are driven by audience suggestions. You could never have seen this show before, and you’ll never be able to see it again.

The team opened with a “one word story” round, each player contributing a single word in turn, and building a surreally comic tale. It was followed by a “genre rollercoaster”, in which a scene would abruptly switch genres at the sound of a bell: from Rom Com movie to Kung Fu flick, via Thriller, Western and Grand Opera.

Laughter levels were cranked up to full wattage during a round where a honeymooning couple had to switch between speech and song. Through a door in their Albanian hotel room, a dungeon was revealed, complete with a whip on the wall, arranged by the groom as a surprise for his bride. “But I’m so vanilla”, Emily warbled. “I’m not going into detail, because there are kids in the audience. It’s a flavour of ice cream!”

A twist on BBC1’s Film 2017 saw “Zoe Ball” introducing a selection of suggested film titles: The Sock Drawer (voiced by Danny De Vito), The Cemetery Club, Raiders Of The Lost Parky, and Die Soft. In “Letter Replacement Therapy”, Di was instructed to replace the letter A in every word with a Z, while Parky had to substitute a cough for every I. The pair took a trip to Australia – or “Zustrzliz” as Di just about managed to splutter out.

For “Human Prop”, an audience member morphed into every shape the players required. It’s not easy for a paramedic to give the Heimlich manoeuvre to a sealion choking on a fish – as this reviewer soon discovered, at the cost of any dignity he might once have possessed.

Given jetlag as a topic, Jamie and Emily turned it into a Shakespearian scene, flying via Moorish Airlines to Ibiza, “where many japes and capers did occur”. Smart, eloquent wordplay and quick comic reflexes turned this round into one of the afternoon’s absolute highlights.

An invisible remote control switched the players between four TV channels, including The Love Of Mangoes, and live coverage of the My Little Pony Grand National, where all the steeds cheated by soaring above the hedges. The show concluded with a fictional postcard correspondence between Darrell (from Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers novels) and Emmeline Pankhurst. Being somewhat lacking in Blyton knowledge, Darrell became a male chauvinist, baiting an increasingly furious suffragette in a scene which spiralled into utter hilarity.

Throughout their hour on stage, the four performers tackled some seemingly impossible challenges with dexterity, flair and quick-witted intelligence, while retaining a core warmth which placed us firmly on their side. As someone remarked to me afterwards, every single audience member laughed their heads off throughout. We must have them back.

Mike Atkinson

Poetical Party Pleases Purists

On the first Sunday of feva, Art in the Mill hosted the second More Poetry Please laying out the poetical interests and skills of Knaresborough. Here, Shan Oakes gives her view on the evening.

This was a feva gem:  about 15 people gathered in the lovely sunlit top gallery of Art in the Mill and shared a glass of wine and poems they had written or chosen, mainly on the theme of ‘place’. 

The poems took us variously on a tour of Knaresborough, on a train journey imagining a world without humans, into the womb, back to childhood, through Glasgow, on a spiritual walk by the sea, and imagined our attitude to our planet Earth as if it was just two feet wide – and more.   It was excellent and a very enjoyable opportunity to meet and discuss with others who like to write and /or read poetry.

Thanks to Martin Harrison for organising the evening and to Art in the Mill for hosting. Yes, we do want more poetry please!

 

Shan Oakes

Great Mandavi, Thursday 17 August, Market Place

That most stalwart of all the feva stalwarts, the Great Mandavi, introduced a wholly new routine for the delectation of his loyal and fervent audience of mostly under twelves, their parents, grandparents and those just hanging around in Knaresborough Market Place waiting for his shows. 

The new routine, he said, was one of the trickiest every attempted in the many years of the Festival. It involved the juggling of a chocolate biscuit from the forehead down to the mouth, with hands clasped behind his back.

The Great Mandavi is obviously an expert at this and did the trick almost first time (first time he actually hit the biscuit too hard on to his head and broke it. Luckily, he had another).

He then invited the scores of children who turned out for his three free shows to try it for themselves. Plenty did and a couple found success. The secret is to place the biscuit on the forehead chocolate side down. Some of the younger ones just ate the biscuit straight off and didn’t bother with the trick.

It all added up to another hilarious stint at feva by one of the Festival’s best loved entertainers.

 Nigel Perry

The Conjurors, Saturday 19 August, Frazer Theatre

On first meeting the members of the Harrogate Society of Magicians I was somewhat taken aback. I must have nursed certain mental images of what a magician might look like – a hat, a cape, a cane, a waxed moustache, a grandiose manner – but this diverse bunch of easy-going chaps smashed the stereotype in an instant. Out of costume, they could pass for Muggles on any crowded shopping street. But on stage – suited and booted, illuminated and wired for sound – you quickly sensed a connection to a centuries-old tradition.

This was the society’s second consecutive year at feva, following a 2016 show that came close to selling out. Now promoted to a Saturday night slot, and doubtless aided by word of mouth from last year’s appreciative crowd, they filled the Frazer to capacity.

There were eight of them this year. The youngest was Nat, a dapper escapologist with a nice line in wry quips, who yanked himself free from duct tape and a straitjacket, while somehow spiriting a lost playing card into a can of Coke. The oldest was David, whose prop-based parlour tricks felt beamed from one of David Lynch’s eerier dreamscapes. 

To most of the children in attendance, Bob was a familiar sight; his ‘Bob’s Your Uncle’ show in the market square has been a firm festival favourite for a long as most of them can remember. Dumbledore, his late-arriving rabbit, certainly needed no introduction.

There was magic of the mind, too. Zen got us all standing, then whittled us down to one young girl, who seemed pre-ordained to be the “chosen one” – he’d even predicted her seat number. In the second half, Paul re-staged Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘spirit touch’ experiment, in which two volunteers simultaneously felt an invisible twitch at the back of their necks.

James combined old-school music hall stand-up larks with his conjuring, lulling us into thinking that a disappearing dice trick was a piece of corny Tommy Cooper twaddle, before making the impossible happen after all. And then there was Gary, opening the show with some classic playing card stunts.

Neil, the society’s secretary, made only two brief appearances, but his stunts were perhaps the most gasp-inducing of all. The string of a balloon was snipped away, piece by piece, only to re-emerge fully intact. And then, at the show’s end, he turned water into a thick flurry of paper snowflakes, which shot out from nowhere, filling the area at the front of the stage.

There were some minor niggles along the way – some fluffed lighting cues, background music which sometimes drowned out the performers, a couple of card tricks which were rather too similar to each other thereby diminishing the impact of the second trick – but the audience’s gasps, laughs and cheers told their own story. Bringing old-fashioned traditions firmly into the modern age, The Conjurors had us all spellbound.

Mike Atkinson

Round up for the second weekend of FEVA

The second weekend of feva promises to end this year’s Knaresborough Festival on a high note, says Festival chairman Tony Cerexhe.

“It has been our most successful Festival so far,” he says. “Apart from a few showers the weather has been gorgeous and this has brought in the crowds to the town, both during the day and in the evenings.

The event is building up to something of a climax with the New Vintage Band playing at the Frazer on Thursday and Holy Moly and the Crackers at Henshaws on Friday.

“On Saturday 19 August, the traditional high point of feva is the Picnic in the Park and we have the strongest line-up ever of bands, interspersed by the irrepressible DJ Trev. The Conjurors are to perform their popular magic show at the Frazer in the evening; Henshaws have their annual Burlesque Bonanza and there will be music and events all around the town.

On Sunday, we welcome our first-ever Improv Theatre group to feva. MissImp will engage with their audience in the afternoon at the Frazer. During the day, there is plenty for kids in the Market Place with Bob’s Your Uncle, a discount entry day at the Castle and a family quiz at Henshaws.

“In the evening of 20 August at St John’s Church there will be a classical performance by the period music ensemble Arioso, playing traditional instruments.

“One of the secrets of this year’s feva has been to put on a wider range of offerings. The art shows are all open over the weekend and the town will be full of Festival-goers.”  

Picnic in the Park to Crown Successful 2017 feva

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Picnic in the Park

Predictions of a sunny day on Saturday 19 August for Picnic in the Park look set to crown Knaresborough’s feva Festival 2017 as the most successful staging of the annual event since its foundation in 2001.

“Obviously, good weather makes all the difference with the Picnic,” says feva committee member Lucy Barrow. “Seeing families enjoy themselves at the free event makes worthwhile all the hard work of running the Festival.

“Folk are hardy in Knaresborough and are not often deterred by showers, but with the forecast for the weekend being good we are looking for huge crowds to cap a fine feva this year.

“Knaresborough Lions Club sponsors the event each year enabling us to book the entertainment, and we say a big thank you to the Lions for proving this event for the community,” says Lucy. “FTAV provides the stage and we also get great help from the feva sponsor CNG.”

Picnic in the Park starts in the gardens behind Knaresborough House at noon and will run until 5.00 pm. There is live music and DJ Trev performing all afternoon. The event is ticketless and is open to all. People are encouraged to bring their own food and drink.

Acts lined up for the Picnic are Band of Friends, Dori and the Outlaws, Hot Sauce and the duo Tom Silcox and Chris Kramer.

Magicians Return to feva to Conjure Marvellous Night at the Frazer

Harrogate Society of Magicians returns to feva 2017 to repeat last year’s magical success with a show entitled ‘Conjurors’, to be held on Saturday 19 August at the Frazer Theatre. The show starts at 7.30 pm.

The cast have over a hundred years of experience between them and will present a performance that promises to keep the audience guessing. The Society says it is their members’ best-ever show, a spectacular night of magic, mind reading and illusion, with something for the whole family.

The magicians were a sell-out success at Knaresborough last year. Formed in 1947, the Society is a mix of full-time professionals, willing amateurs, writers, lecturers and inventors.

Tickets are just £8; £6 concessions, and can be booked on www.feva.info.

Improv Comedy Theatre Comes to feva

Improvised action comedy theatre makes its debut at this year’s feva Festival with a stirring performance by MissImp starting at 2 pm on Sunday 20 August.

MissImp is the largest improvised theatre group from the East Midlands, and turns audience suggestions into unique pieces of comedy theatre. These, then, are complete one-offs and are never to be seen again, as they say.

“It is a show created completely from scratch and is great fun suitable for children and adults,” says Martin Harrison of the feva organising committee. “We are expecting a fun-filled couple of hours which will nicely round off the end of the Festival.”

MissImp will be performing upstairs at the Frazer Theatre. Tickets are £6, with £4 concessions for the young and old.

Pink – More than a Colour; an Attitude

Some people might have panicked on learning in the morning that their partner for a two-handed show the coming evening had succumbed to a nasty stomach bug during the night and was incapacitated. Not so writer, actor and costume historian Lucy Adlington who called up her friend and fellow costume historian Merry Towne and proceeded to adapt her performance – or ‘talk’ as she termed it – to the unforeseen circumstances. Together, they turned disaster into triumph.

Offering the now-familiar and heady blend of informal chat, lecture, dressing-up, music, anecdote, historical information, socio-economic reflection and comedy, the mishap was turned to advantage as the two ladies explored the history of the colour pink in clothing.

Lucy has a quick-witted, improvisatory and digressive presentation style which thrives on this kind of challenge.  Her partner-in-crime Merry hides her own erudition well under a facade of very effective clowning. The fact that Merry is a different dress size from the intended model, the Other Lucy, became part of the act. As did the fact that she is, unfortunately for the topic, a red-head, a further disaster that was partially alleviated by the judicious use of wigs. A range of pink garments were displayed and worn, including a replica eighteenth-century gentleman’s embroidered waistcoat, a Laura Ashley dress, 1940s underwear, an iconic Jackie Kennedy suit, a woollen 1960s trouser suit, and a dramatic, pleated Zandra Rhodes cloak.

A highlight for this audience member was a brightly-patterned pink 1960s paper dress produced in the States by card manufacturer, Hallmark, complete with matching paper knickers, cups, plate and tablecloth – a full picnic set! Not to be worn in the rain.

The audience, mainly female and largely devotees of Lucy’s many previous visit to the Frazer Theatre, was pleasurably educated throughout. They learned that pink was originally neither a boy’s nor a girl’s colour. It was very much unisex until Beau Brummell put men into darker, more neutral colours and ladies’ fashions succumbed to an equal drabness, leaving pink as a colour enjoyed by few other than debutantes. They were intrigued to discover the relationship between politics, the chemical industry and dyestuffs and the re-emergence of pink in fashion after World War II. Amongst other things, they learned about the Pink Tax (men’s razors selling for 24p whilst pink razors were priced at £1.29), pink power, the Pink Sari Revolution in India and Pakistan and the adoption of pink by the Race for Life. They also learned about the boy who was ‘tough enough to wear pink’.

All this information and entertainment was followed by a well-accepted invitation to audience members to come up on stage after the show, to touch the garments and props and to ask questions of and chat with the performers. And, of course, to buy Lucy’s merchandise, which many did, to take away a memento of what was an informal, relaxed, entertaining and informative evening.

Martin Harrison

Town Criers from across the north try not to drop a clanger at feva

The annual feva Town Criers’ Competition, that explosion of finely-controlled yelling that traditionally shatters the peace of our tranquil Market Place each first Sunday of the festival was as usual sponsored by Bowers Funeral Services and once again generated enough noise to stir most of their former customers up from their eternal resting-places.

The Criers themselves, or in the case of Otley’s Terry Ford, the Bellman, were as usual arrayed like Glam Rock stars, in ruffs, breeches and buckled shoes, tricorn hats and every shade of eighteenth century frock-coat imaginable, as they vigorously clacked their bells of office for us. The only exception was Vic Watson of Huddersfield who, for some reason, wore a kilt of Heritage of Scotland tartan which I, as a compatriot of that fine West Riding town, failed to understand.

The first to perform was the magnificent Roger Hewitt, our local crier, who is not allowed to formally compete (because he’d have home ground advantage) but who sets the benchmark for all other ‘home cries’, as the opening performances of each crier are called, which talk up their home towns. Roger illuminated many features of our town including “Mother Shipton, who could see the future, and Blind Jack, who couldn’t see anything at all.”

Each ‘home cry’ was introduced by a standard cry of “Oh yay, oh yay, oh yay (spelled oyez, of course): God Save the Queen,” But the variety of delivery was immense. Otley’s Terry was first up. The volume of his opening cry was deafening, threatening to shatter the windows of the world’s oldest Chemist Shop, whereas the next crier, Peter Stemmer of Darlington, chose to emulate the Beatles and sing his “oh yays.” Hilary McGrath of Garstang’s variation on this theme was a rising, questioning almost existential “oh yay” whilst Eliza Mowe, of Barnoldswick extended the length of her “ohs” and “yays” well beyond the lung capacity of a normal human being. It was a relief to return to David Jackson of Malton and Norton, who rendered a polite, almost soothing series of “oh yays” to return us to tranquility.

These home cries were educational. Did you know that the stones for the foundations of the Houses of Parliament were quarried in Otley’s Chevin? That that town was once voted the 7th best place to live in the UK? “Why?” That Garstang was the world’s first free trade town? Or that locals call Barnoldswick ‘Barlick’? Or that Huddersfield Town are in the Premier League? (I knew that, but I just like typing it.)

Each crier returned to do a challenge, set two weeks previously by the splendid organiser and mistress of ceremonies Michelle Whittleton, entitled “Knaresborough in Winter.”

Whilst the four-person judging panel was deliberating, audience members were allowed to perform their own ‘oh yays” with medals awarded to Christine and Maisie (aged 6).

Results were: Best Dressed, Terry of Otley, Runner-up, Vic of Huddersfield and Best Crier, Eliza of Barnoldswick.

Oh yay. For the first time in several years, a victory for a woman crier!

Martin Harrison

Knaresborough Performers to put on ‘Super Gig’ at feva Friday

Knaresborough’s rich array of talented folk and rock artists are coming together to put on a ‘super gig’ at the Frazer Theatre for the opening concert of the 2017 feva Festival on Friday, 11 August. The event is ticketless but the audience will be invited to make a donation which will go to the overheads of the Festival. Doors open at 7.30 pm and there is a licensed bar.

Those lining up to perform include Blarge’s Rik Currie and Tony Cerexhe who will put on their version of rollicking Celtic and English folk with friends Fiona McCraven, Callum Bulmer and Richard Simmons. Guitarists Rufus Beckett and Will McKenzie will duet, before a solo performance by Martin Rose. Towards the end, all will take part with the audience in building towards a memorable crescendo.

“We are very grateful to those who have agreed to turn out for the gig, coming because of the cancellation of the scheduled concert,” said Tony Cerexhe, who also serves as chairman of feva. “The opening concert of the Festival, always held at the Frazer on the first Friday is something special, and with local performers rallying around we have been able to save the day.”

FEVA Events at Knaresborough Library

Knaresborough Library are having two author events in August as part of Knaresborough’s Festival of Entertainment and Visual Arts.

Jackie Buxton will be at the library on Tuesday 15th August talking about her novel ‘Glass Houses – a topical and contemporary morality tale of two women, the mistakes they make and the devastation they cause, as well as the silver linings. It’s about people taking responsibility for their actions and others learning to forgive.

Jackie lives near Harrogate and is a writer and editor as well as a teacher of creative writing. She will be talking about her inspiration for writing the novel and how she tackled such serious themes while keeping the reader gripped. Jackie’s book, and her talk, is sure to appeal to fans of authors such as Liane Moriarty, Marian Keyes & Jodi Picoult.

She is also the author of ‘Tea and Chemo’, an informative and upbeat account of how she dealt with treatment for breast cancer which has received over eighty 5 star reviews on Amazon.

On Thursday 17th August the library will host author & charity fundraiser Andy Dennis, who will be talking about his first-hand experience of fighting the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and his fascinating work with Medicines Sans Frontieres.

Andy, a Registered Nurse in the Endoscopy Department at Harrogate District Hospital is the co-author of the recently published book “Ebola – Behind the mask”.

In the book, Andy and his friend and colleague Anna Simon describe their experiences from the decision to commit to a mission, the training with Doctors Without Borders in Amsterdam, the journey to Kailahun, and most importantly, the work in the Ebola Management Centre.

The authors responded to MSF’s call for volunteers, and left behind their regular jobs for two months to work in an Ebola Management Centre in the remote province of Kailahun in Sierra Leone. Working alongside dozens of men and women from Sierra Leone, they cared for more than 150 patients with Ebola.

Andy is a passionate supporter and fundraiser for MSF UK. Over the years he has walked by himself across Europe, from Amsterdam to Barcelona. Recently Andy and his partner Tracey cycled across the US, from San Francisco to New York fundraising and raising awareness on MSF and its work.

Both events start at 7.00pm. Tickets are available from the Tourist Information Centre in the library or can be purchased direct from the feva website: http://www.feva.info/book-online-2/

Tickets for Jackie’s talk are £5 each.

Andy’s talk is free but donations to MSF on the night would be much appreciated.

Signed copies of the books can be purchased at the event.

For more information please contact Knaresborough Library on Tel: 01609 533610 or via email: knaresborough.library@northyorks.gov.uk

You can find out more about both authors by visiting their websites:

www.jackiebuxton.com/

www.andy4msf.com/

If you are not a member of the library, join now. It is FREE. Visit your local branch or log on www.northyorks.gov.uk/libraries

Blind Jack’s Restored Fiddle Returned to Knaresborough for feva celebrations

The actual fiddle played by Knaresborough’s famous Blind Jack Metcalf in the 18th Century has been restored and returned to the Town for the 2017 feva Festival. The 10-day Festival in August will host a series of events to celebrate the 300th anniversary of his birth on 15 August 1717 and it is planned that the fiddle will be on display throughout feva.

Blind from the age of six, Blind Jack rose above his disabilities to become a famous musician, guide, soldier and, above all, a revolutionary road builder gaining national recognition. Stories of his life were collected and printed into a biography of the man published in 1795 as The Life and Times of John Metcalf, commonly known as Blind Jack of Knaresborough.

As part of the celebrations there will be musical performances, talks about his life and an exhibition of illustrations based on his adventures as a young man. His tri-centenary had already been marked by renaming part of the road near the Kestrel pub John Metcalf Way in his honour.

In our photo on the steps of Knaresborough House are local dignitaries with the restored fiddle; from left to right, Shan Oakes, John Metcalf Tri-Centennial Committee, Councillor David Goode (Mayor of Knaresborough), Councillor Mavis Clemmitt, Bernard Higgins, John Metcalf Tri-Centennial Committee, Councillor Anne Jones, Mayor of Harrogate, Alan Cartwright and Marie Cartwright, both of the John Metcalf Tri-Centennial Committee, Nicola Smith, Clerk to Knaresborough Council, Councillor Robert Aspin, Councillor Bill Rigby and Rosie Clarke of the John Metcalf Tri-Centennial Committee.

A Blast for kids with Free Street Entertainment at 2017 feva Festival

Free street entertainment is one of the much-loved features of Knaresborough feva and there is a whole rack lined up for the school holidays in August, with something on every day in the Market Place during the 10-day Festival. Children are welcome to bring their parents and grandparents with them.

On day one, Friday 11 August, feva regular, Bob’s your Uncle, will provide his riotously entertaining magic shows at noon, 1, 2 and 3 pm. Day two will see a re-run of the feva Busk Stop offering a platform for Knaresborough’s musical youngsters. The Knaresborough Mummers will chart the town’s historic characters on the 13th.

The Never Too Old puppet theatre will unveil Grandpa and Grandma on Monday, 14 August, with shows at 11 am, 1 and 3 pm. The hugely popular Properpunch makes a welcome return the following day with a traditional Punch and Judy show demonstrating just what can be done to sausages! Wednesday is set to welcome the feva story trail, this year describing various Beastly Tales. The youngsters of the Studio 3 dance group will perform the tale of the Wizard of Oz in the Castle Grounds in the afternoon.

Perennial favourite, the Great Mandavi, returns to the Festival with his inspiring and hilarious off-beat children’s show at 11 am, 1 and 3 pm on Thursday 17 August. Watch him with his spine-tingling, breathtaking Walk of Death, juggling with knives over small children. What could go wrong!

On Friday 18 August, feva welcomes first-timers Wendy and Wendy in their side-splitting show based on Where’s Wally as they search for each other in the Market Place. Have-a-Go Pirates have their own quest on Saturday, as they scour the town centre looking to press gang children for their crew. And Bob is back on Sunday, the last day of feva with four shows staring at 11 am.

All of this is absolutely free to enjoy, thanks to support from CNG and Knaresborough Town Council.

There is much more for children to enjoy during feva ranging from scarecrow-making, medieval sword fighting and story-telling, to clay modelling and cartooning workshops. More details are available on the Festival’s website www.feva.info.  

“Knaresborough feva is the only festival in Yorkshire that offers so much for children during the summer school holidays,” said Tony Cerexhe, chairman of the organising committee. “So, we invite kids who are at a loose end during the school holidays to high-tail it to Knaresborough from 11 to 20 August.”

Holy Moly and the Crackers at 2017 feva Festival

Compelling gypsy folk and roll band, Holy Moly and the Crackers, will perform at Henshaws on Friday 18 August during this year’s feva Festival in one of the standout events. The band has a huge following for their exciting stage performance and will be giving fans an early hearing of their new album, Salem, released in mid-July.

Holy Moly and the Crackers are a seven-piece outfit, offering a re-imaging of traditional folk and blues running on modern gypsy punk steroids. Thrown in are rock, pop, Balkan, klezmer ska and reggae to make a varied and eclectic mix. It is excitable and energetic stuff and their new album, produced with top rock producer Matt Terry at Vada Studios has been eagerly awaited.

“There is a good reason as to why a lot of people are loving this band,” said Matt. “I was drawn in the moment I heard them … their sound is like a dirty circus.”

Diva Publications described them as “… a bunch of wild gypsy troubadours with more than a touch of magic about them.”

The band’s founders are Conrad Bird, Ruth Patterson and ‘Squeezebox’ Rosie, who lead Holy Moly and the Crackers with compelling charismatic style. It has been written that their style has more than a touch of whisky and gunsmoke about it, with an overlay like a New Orleans funeral wake.

Tickets are £12 and can be booked online at www.feva.info.com

Beer’s Best at Knaresborough’s feva Festival

Beer is best at Knaresborough House when the Knaresborough Lions Club stages its annual beer festival over the first weekend of feva from the evening of Friday 11 August, all day on Saturday the 12th and a pot-luck to see what’s left from noon on the afternoon of Sunday 13 August. Many of the beers are getting one of their first outings at the festival.

There will be 20 different beers plus three traditional ciders and four fruit ciders, as well as wine and soft drinks. Again this year, the Lions will have a separate Pimm’s and Prosecco bar. Indian snacks will be provided by the ever-popular DeeSpice. Entry is free and there is music throughout from Paul Watson, with a special outdoor concert on Saturday afternoon from the award-winning Knaresborough Silver Band.

The Knaresborough Lions’ beer festival is organised with feva, with advice on beers provided by Knaresborough’s own Roosters Brewery. This year’s event will feature a feast of mostly new real ale and craft beers from top local independent breweries including the new Harrogate Brewing Company, Revolutions Brewing from Castleford, Hop Studio from Elvington near York, Brass Castle Brewery from Malton near York, and the North Riding Brewery from Scarborough.

“Yorkshire is particularly well supplied with breweries and the ones chosen to showcase their beers at this year’s Beer Festival offer some of the varied and most unusual produce in the country,” said Mike Pyle, Knaresborough Lions’ organising chairman.

“Roosters are producing a special beer to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth in 1717 of Blind Jack Metcalf, one of Knaresborough’s great characters from the past,” Mike added.” He was known to like a drop  and we fully expect this to be one of the successful beers at the event.”

Knaresborough Lions have run the beer festival at feva since 2001 and donate proceeds to the Picnic in the Park free outdoor music event for families held on the last Saturday of feva, which this year is 19 August. More details are available online at www.feva.info.

Knaresborough Players to Stage ‘Black Comedy’ at 2017 feva Festival

Knaresborough Players are to present the hilarious one-act ‘Black Comedy’, on Saturday 12 August at the Frazer Theatre. Tickets are £8 and include a drink, and can be booked at www.feva.info

The play is an ambitious venture for the Players, taking as its setting a home suffering an electricity short circuit. The trick is that the play opens on a darkened stage and as the blackout hits the lights come on. This continues throughout the action as when matches or torches are used the stage lights dim to continue the back-to-front effect. The title of the play, written in the 1960s by Sir Peter Shaffer, is a pun.

Played out against this background, the action opens up all sorts of comic possibilities. A young sculptor and his fiancée ‘borrow’ some expensive furniture to impress a prospective collector coming to inspect his work. Past mistresses, difficult family members and worried neighbours all turn up to play their parts in a catalogue of misunderstanding as the players grope their way in the dark – in, of course, full view of the audience.

Since its first staging, Black Comedy has been a resounding success. Shaffer, himself, described its first night as exploding with a “… veritable detonation of human glee”. The task before the Knaresborough Players is to maintain this run for the benefit of their growing army of fans.

Number One Tribute Act, the Jam’d to Play Knaresborough for 2017 feva Festival

Acknowledged as the best tribute band for the Jam, the Jam’d are to perform at Knaresborough Working Men’s Club on Wednesday 16 August during feva.

The Jam’d play all of the old favorites of the Jam, one of Britain’s most popular rock and pop music acts of the late 1970s, early 1980s. They have built a large following in their own right in their energetic performances of the Jam’s classics such as Eton Rifles, Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, Town called Malice, The Beat Surrender and Going Underground.

They gig up and down the country and it has been something of a coup for the feva organising committee to land them for the Festival. They are sure to be a big draw.

“We are delighted to have been able to book them,” said Lucy Barrow. “The Jam’d are totally committed to giving an authentic, unforgettable performance with all of the energy and passion of the core Jam line-up, Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Butler.

“The concert will allow the audience to relive the experience of one of the most influential bands of the British music scene. The show features their own brass section and includes the only replica of Rick Butler’s ‘Great White drum kit.

The Jam formed in 1977 and ran until 1982, having 18 consecutive top-40 single hits, including four number ones. Their final album, the Gift, went to the top of the UK’s album charts in 1982.

Caroline Miekina to stage Blind Jack tri-centenary exhibition during 2017 feva Festival

Knaresborough-based illustrator Caroline Miekina is to stage an exhibition of her illustrations on the life and times of Blind Jack Metcalf, as part of the tri-centenary celebrations of his birth. The exhibition, held as part of the town’s 2017 feva Festival, will be open free to the public in Knaresborough House from 11 am to 4 pm on 19 and 20 August.

Caroline’s original illustrations are based on Blind Jack’s stories recounted to an anonymous author when he was around 70-years of age. These were collected into a biography of the man published in 1795 as The Life and Times of John Metcalf, commonly known as Blind Jack of Knaresborough.

“They are wonderfully expressed and contain a rollicking set of adventures and escapades that I felt deserve visual interpretation,” said Caroline. “Despite the considerable handicap of losing his sight aged six as a result of smallpox, Jack Metcalf was an extraordinary character who overcame his disabilities to become one of the foremost road builders in the country.

“Along the way he had a series of very physical adventures such as diving to recover bodies from the River Nidd, climbing chimneys, eloping aged 22, acting as night-time guide and enlisting as a musician to accompany the local militia into action.”

 

Caroline’s exhibition is in response to her studies for an MA in Image and Time-Based Media at the School of Arts at Harrogate College, where she is also lecturer. She opted to explore the eventful life of this local character using sequential imagery and graphic story-telling. Her primary aim was to bring the adventurous spirit of the young John Metcalf to a wider audience by presenting it in a form with which young adults will engage.  “The original narrative contains the only contemporary portrait we have of him, drawn when he was 78,” says Caroline. “From this I have attempted to peel back the years to imagine him as a boy and in his young manhood. I imagine him as a cross between Johnny Depp and Liam Neeson – a bit of a lad with a striking physical presence.”

Caroline has used a variety of stylistic approaches to present her images. “I know from teaching that the 14 to 18 age group can be difficult to impress. Visual material needs to be presented in a style or styles that will grab their attention and make them want to find out more about the subject.”

Blind Jack was born on 15 August 1717 and there is a raft of activities underway during feva, including concerts, talks on his life and a birthday party. A Blind Jack ale brewed by Rooster’s will be served at the Lions beer festival from 11 to 13 August. A part of the A658 to the Kestrel roundabout has been named the John Metcalf Way in his honour.

And his fiddle has been restored and will be on display during the Festival.

Knaresborough’s 2017 feva Festival is Biggest Yet

The line-up for the 2017 feva in Knaresborough is the biggest ever in the 18-year story of the town’s annual summer arts and entertainment festival, say the organisers.

“We have 74 performances and happenings of many and varied types,” said feva chairman, Tony Cerexhe. “In addition, there are 17 art shows, most of them open throughout the festival, plus eight special flavours of feva menu offerings. That makes the 2017 festival one short of a full century of things to do.”

The feva festival will be held from 11 to 20 August and is quite special in Yorkshire in being staged in the school summer holidays.

“Other festivals avoid this time of the year as people go away, but that has turned out to be Knaresborough feva’s ‘unique selling proposition’,” added Tony. “Folk have come to know that there is so much on in Knaresborough during the festival’s 10 days in August and they now travel to the town from far and wide.

“With so much on during the day-time, including the fantastic free street performances, it is a great place to provide distraction for the kids. In the evening we have music, plays, talks and performances of all kinds for adults. As usual, feva offers something for everyone.

“The fact that there is more on this year is testament to the creativity and hard work of our event organisers, and also to the growing numbers who make up the audience,” he said. “The festival also provides a platform for the talent to displayed of over 300 local people.”

First staged in 2000, feva has become a fixture in Knaresborough’s calendar. Henshaw’s will be hosting its hugely popular Urban Beach at it Arts and Crafts Centre on Bond End. This has been made possible by crowd funding and is excellent news for the thousands of children who spend much of each day of the festival on the beach.

This year there is a series of special events being held to celebrate the tri-centenary of the birth of Blind Jack Metcalf, one of Knaresborough’s most famous characters, who was born on 15 August 1717. “There are concerts and performances in his honour, talks on his life and achievements and a special birthday party for the great man,” said Tony Cerexhe.

Yorkshire-based Edwina Hayes will be featuring at the opening concert on Friday 11 August at the Frazer Theatre. Nanci Griffith called her “the sweetest voice in England’, and her version of the song Feels Like Home was featured in the 2009 Cameron Diaz film My Sister’s Keeper.

On 12 August, Knaresborough Players are staging the hilarious play, Black Comedy, and St John’s Choir will host its annual feva choral eucharist by performing Mozart’s Coronation Mass in C. Author, Jackie Buxton, will give a talk about her books at the Library, and Cadenza will perform at the Old School House. The traditional tribute act at the Working Men’s Club will be the Jam’d who will demonstrate the brilliance of Paul Weller and others, while performing the classics of the Jam. Snake Davis will be at Henshaw’s, as will Holy Moly and the Crackers and the Harrogate Society of Magicians will perform at the Frazer. Pro Musica will perform with the award-winning Cassia String Quartet.

On each day, there is free street entertainment provided by those stalwarts the Great Mandavi, Uncle Bob, Where is Wendy and Have-a-Go Pirates. Brightening up feva will be puppets from Frolicked Theatre and the ‘Proper’ Punch and Judy show. The Lions will host their annual Beer Festival over the first weekend and the free Picnic in the Park will be held on Saturday 19 August.

Programmes are available in shops and other outlets in Knaresborough, or from the Tourist Information Centre and Printzone. Tickets are on sale from 1 July. More details and information on bookings are available on www.feva.info.