I am writing this over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend.
Having been tea lady at my local church’s flower festival, I was so struck by the feeling of community spirit that I simply had to put my thoughts into a Blog.
What has this got to do with the Two Moors Festival? Read on…
There is a wonderful feeling of neighbourliness at the heart of the festival. This is what makes it so special. While many of our audience members travel from far and wide, the major percentage of those who go to concerts are local. With the roots of the festival stemming from Foot and Mouth disease, it is entirely appropriate that most of our followers hail from farms and rural businesses. There are also plenty of semi-retired folk who have given up city life in exchange for peace and quiet not to mention unpolluted air.
Of course our concerts bring people whose performance expectations are high. They take it for granted they will hear interpretations of sonatas, Lieder, unaccompanied Bach not to mention a wide spectrum of chamber music performed at the highest level. But it’s more than that, however. There is a sort of ‘package deal’ whereby they are more than likely to meet their chums having made friends the previous year. They enter the church venues full of smiles. Then they get waylaid by striking up a conversation culminating in a …’let’s carry on in the interval’…
The tone is one of a village atmosphere. It doesn’t matter if a recital starts a few minutes late. There are always stragglers coming in at the last minute. Incidentally, why is it that church doors have catches that either stick or close with a crash. Sometimes a little DW40 would help!
I hear people offering someone a lift home. I see an elderly lady being proffered an arm when negotiating uneven steps. Some might be having a friendly argument as to who should pay for a programme. More to the point, they catch up on news. This isn’t the sort of news you would necessarily hear in other concert situations. This might focus on whether it has been a good lambing season. They could be comparing notes on the varying sums they get paid for milk; could someone recommend a good builder to repair tiles on a roof; was it a bad summer for slugs and didn’t we get a fantastic crop of black currants this year. By the way, they grow like weeds in my garden with the biggest crop ever coming to 51lbs!! They finish by saying …’you must come and stay’ – knowing full well they won’t see each other for another year.
There are also those who want to impress. It amuses me no end to eavesdrop on a discussion of an interpretation of Beethoven’s D major sonata. And of course the balance was all wrong! Wasn’t the performance of Figaro sublime – did you go? And weren’t we lucky to get tickets for the Berlin Phil. at the Proms!
We’ve all done it…
While having a dig at these amusing exchanges, there are the whinges too. It’s useful to hear them as it’s the only way that we, as organisers, can learn.
It’s possible to argue that the cost of a festival’s ticket s is high especially so when sitting on an excruciatingly hard pew. The parking may be tricky in some places and as for loos, they can pose major problems. In the main, people recognise that small rural churches do not have these facilities and accept them without fuss. I shall never forget the wonderful sides-man in one Dartmoor church who on explaining where to find a loo, told us all to go the lamp-post!! What he meant to say was , turn left at the said spot.
Where we can, we offer lunches and teas which are usually provided by ladies within the community. We always endeavour to make sure that each venue makes money out of food sales.
Which brings me back to where I started – flower festival teas. Thinking that I would be doing this as a duty, I had a truly lovely time serving vast slices of cake (I munched the ‘to die for’ chocolate sponge) while chatting to lots of wonderful people. I managed to catch up on gossip and was able to meet lots of new faces. It was fun and I could have stayed longer only my dog needed some exercise. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world and all down to the community spirit that took me there. This is what the festival is all about.’