Hitchin’s Walsworth Festival saved after surge of support

Vikings come to town at the Walsworth Festival this year.

Vikings come to town at the Walsworth Festival this year. - Credit: Archant

Hitchin’s Walsworth Festival is to go ahead for at least another year after an appeal through the Comet for community support.

The fancy dress procession at the 1975 Walsworth Festival.

The fancy dress procession at the 1975 Walsworth Festival. - Credit: Archant

The annual volunteer-run event, billed as the largest free family festival in North Herts, has been held on Walsworth Common every May since 1974.

A lack of volunteers had made the need for new people urgent, and the organising team had been worried that this year’s festival could be the last.

But the Comet got behind the recruitment drive initiated by festival chairman Oonagh Sherlock, and now a phalanx of new volunteers have rallied to offer their time.

Oonagh said: “We are delighted to be able to continue the festival for another year.

“It is such a great part of the local community calendar, and would be very much missed if it didn’t go ahead. We really appreciate the Comet’s help raising awareness of the need for support.

“We still have a lot to do for next year’s event, and would welcome anyone who can help either on the day or in advance.

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“We are also looking for people who can become board members and help the festival continue in future years.”

Groups featured at this year’s festival included 15th-century re-enactment group the Companie of the Silver Arrow, cheerleading from the Purwell Panthers, Vickie Lesnick’s School of Ballet from Hitchin, and the Letchworth Morris Men.

The festival has helped raised many thousands of pounds for good causes during his four decades in existence. It was originally a week-long event.

Highlights over the years have ranged from cowboys and ferret racing to motorcycle stunts and bungee jumping, with donkey rides an attraction at one of the festivals in the 1980s.

One of the animals memorably escaped and ran up Highover Way, minus its rider – causing chaos and amusement, depending on one’s point of view, until it was recaptured.

The 2018 Walsworth Festival is scheduled to go ahead on the common on Sunday, May 20.

As always, it will feature lots of fun acts and performances, food stalls and fairground rides and entertainment – a great free day out for all ages.

To find out more about the festival and how to volunteer, call 07401 810921 or send an email to wfchair@gmx.co.uk.

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