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


Congratulations Viv

Viv Hall
Allotments Open Day

Huge congratulations to our friend Viv Hall who is the Principal of Studio 3 for being awarded the British Empire Medal for services to Community Dance and the community in Knaresborough.

Viv works tirelessly and puts on at least two performances with Studio 3 every FEVA. One is always free, the other very low cost and she shares the profit.  She also organises the Scarecrow Workshops and the Open Day at the Allotments.

Well done Viv and thank you for being such a star!

Become a feva volunteer

Are you interested in helping out with this year’s feva? If so, get in touch. 

Whether you would like to be involved in the run-up to the festival, or would prefer to help out at events during the festival, we are always happy to hear from potential volunteers.

Some of the roles that we need help with are:

Small events officer: the role will involve organising the smaller events in feva, including the walks, afternoon talks and children’s story telling

Event helpers: stewards, litter pickers, helping set up stages and marquees, selling t-shirts

Door duties: collecting and selling tickets

General admin: assistance in preparing for the festival, including arranging the licensing of events, organising the Red Cross for events etc.

Click on the ‘Contact’ link to send us an email and we will get back to you to chat about ways in which you can be invol