Best music programme ever at Petherton FolkFest

THE eighth annual Petherton Folk Fest, on Saturday 15th June, offers more entertainment than ever before for both adults and children, with “the best music programme ever” – and it’s all completely free!

The day will start at 10am with a parade into Market Square by Morris sides and other performers, followed by the traditional Ceremony of the Glove – which is an ancient part of Petherton folklore.

Throughout the day, there will be music, dance and a wide range of entertainment and attractions in five locations around the town: Market Square, the David Hall, the Church of St Peter and St Paul and its grounds, the Blake Hall and the Brewer’s Arms pub.

Pete Wheeler, who chaired  the festival committee from its beginning in 2012 until the end of last year, will open the festival and then throw the ceremonial glove into the crowd. It must not reach the ground and when caught, will be kept on a pole attached to the Market Square stage until the end of the festival.  According to tradition, no-one can be arrested for drunkenness while the glove is in the air – though this is best not tested in these modern times!

At noon, visitors will be invited to take part in another South Petherton tradition, known as Clipping the Church.  People form a chain by holding hands and surround the church until it is completely encircled. This ceremony began in 1231 and, thanks to Petherton Folk Fest, is now an annual event.  Once the circle is completed, everyone shouts “Hooray” and a fanfare is sounded to mark its conclusion. The reason for hugging the Church is not clear but may be related to people wanting to keep the ‘good spirits’ inside the church and the ‘evil spirits’ outside.

There will be folk music and dance in Market Square all day until 6.30pm when the Celtic rock and roots four-piece band, The Dambuskers (pictured), will close the day’s events with a gig. They will perform again at 9pm in the Brewer’s Arms.  In the David Hall, there will be seven music acts, from 10.30am to 6pm.

Entertainment for children, mainly in the churchyard and the Blake Hall, includes Punch & Judy, maypole dancing and a Morris workshop. Other performances in the churchyard include Appalachian and Flamenco dancers and the Mendip All Drummers. In the church itself, visitors can sit comfortably to hear four choirs and other singers throughout the day.

Stallholders located in and around Market Square will be selling food and drink as well as local crafts, and refreshments will also be served in the church.

Cilla Caswell, who became Folk Fest chairman earlier this year, says: “Our aim is to provide entertainment for everyone, regardless of age. With two festival stages – in Market Square and the David Hall – we will have the best music programme ever.”

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