Grooves on the Green comes of age

THE annual Grooves on the Green, Dorset’s longest running community festival, returns to Ashley Cross, Parkstone, for the 21st year, on 16th and 17th July.

To mark the occasion it’s bigger and better than ever with an increased capacity and a greater emphasis on locally produced food and drink.

“There’s such a special community atmosphere at Grooves – that’s the main reason it has lasted so long,” says Grooves supremo Jan Crump who started the festival in 2000 as a focal point for the Ashley Cross neighbourhood.

“Of course we had to miss a year in lockdown, but we pulled out all the stops to come back even stronger last year and the response just blew us away – people were so happy, it was even more special than usual, a real weekend to remember.”

Local live music is the lifeblood of Grooves and Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Allan Turner-Ward returns this year to compere the packed Main Stage line up headlined by guaranteed party starters Pronghorn and Mother Ukers, as well as highly-rated indie outfit Ragwormers who were ‘forged from the fires of fun,’ they say.

This year with more space for festival goers to sit down and enjoy food and drink, there are even more opportunities to try something local with the launch of a new, locally made sparkling wine called Bonnay – a refreshing taste that links Champagne and Prosecco – as well as two gins bars (Pothecary and Pink Mermaid), a rum bar, two cider bars, a local real ale bar, Pimms and cocktail bar, the local Barefaced Brewery and, of course, from Ashley Cross’s favourite pub The Bricklayers bar.

There’s even the festival debut of the Shandy Shack for those seeking a low-alcohol refresher; while the famous Groove Garden offers VIP seating and bathroom facilities with a private bar.

Foodies are even better catered for this year than usual with cuisines from around the world including Mauritian, Greek, Indian, German, American, UK, and not forgetting festival favourites ice cream, candy floss, cakes, sweets and treats.

The accent is firmly on family fun and the Entertainment Stage is home to a variety of special shows suitable for all ages from the likes of Mr Merlin and Okey Dokey Dragon, Squidge and Pop’s Balloons. There’s also a bouncy castle, assault course, trampolines and two face painters on site.

There’s also plenty of shopping to do on the Green with local homemade clothing, jewellery, arts and crafts.

“As ever, the people and traders of Ashley Cross have been incredible,” says Jan, “with everyone pitching in and doing their bit. Without their efforts in volunteering, helping and sponsoring the weekend Grooves on the Green just wouldn’t be the same.”

Grooves will again be supporting local charities – in the last seven years it has raised more than £35,000 for Diverse Abilities. Children under five are free. Dogs on leads are allowed on-site.