A Traditional Village Fete

Nirvana Spa Cheque Presentation

Today was the Finchampstead Village Fete. The responsibility for organising the fete alternates between the Church and the village, and although it is often a lot of the same people who help out, this year it fell to the Church.

Usually the proceeds from the fete go into general Church funds, but in view of the ongoing conservation appeal, this year we took the decision to redirect all the funds into the conservation appeal. Watching the weather forecast over the last week it has been different every day – luckily it settled on sunny spells so we were blessed with a dry afternoon, nicely warm, but not too hot. All the pre-publicity paid off too, with a record turnout – by about 4pm we’d run out of ice cream!

The fete was opened by a former Miss Finchampstead, who is now owner of Nirvana Spa in Sindelsham who also presented a generous donation of £10,000 to the appeal. It also included performances by the St Sebastians (Wokingham) Brass Band, the Shinfield Shambles Morris Dancers and the Maypole Dancers from our own village school. After previous years where there had been a definite theme, we were just going for a traditional village fete – certainly it didn’t seem any the less popular for not having a theme!

Beth and Becky had volunteered to run the Can Shy stall – basically a variation of a coconut shy where you have a line of five empty tin cans and people pay 30p to throw three balls at the cans. Any that manage to knock over three win a can of drink as a prize. Of course as the two people running the stall, Beth and Becky got quite a workout running around collecting balls and dislodged cans, and also deftly leaping out the way as cans went flying in all directions. It seemed a pretty popular stand too with a couple of the kids getting pretty competitive, including one older brother who returned (and failed to win) several times after his altogether more accurate younger brother won a can on his first go. There was also another young gentleman who came back several times in order to get one of each variety of soft drink they had as prizes.

The recently introduced smoking ban was much in evidence with the main marquee and a number of the gazebo’s displaying (quite correctly) a no smoking sign. Basically any of them that are ‘substantially enclosed’ is covered by the ban.

I had a few pictures entered into the photographic competition. Last Sunday there were only a couple of entries, so I put in five of mine. However it looks like I wasn’t the only last minute entry – by the closing date there were seventy-three pictures! Sadly I didn’t win, but I managed to get people talking about things in the church they hadn’t seen such as the stained glass window in the tower and the tomb by the 1590 door. Unfortunately I didn’t win a prize but the shots that did were well deserving of the prizes.

On the subject of pictures, today was also the launch of the Finchampstead Dawn to Dusk Calendar, which had been put together by Rolfe Markham who is the son of a couple who attend St James. The calendar is absolutely superb – with much better pictures than we could have collected from our own collections. I’ll blog separately about the calendar as he has posted a selection of the shots on Flickr – it is perhaps a testament to the quality of the shots quite how many of them have been marked as favourites and cross-posted to groups. Also a testament to the shots quite how quickly the calendars were disappearing as people bought them. Alongside this, we were also selling a DVD copy of a 1994 video made to mark the centenary of Finchampstead Parish Council. Although more than a decade old there are a number of familiar faces on the video, and some familiar shots. You get to see St James itself before the very first part of the conservation project – the external rendering of the walls – was completed. It’s also interesting to note the changes brought about by the onward march of housing development with a number of familiar spots looking somewhat different from now. Again the DVD is really nicely put together, and well worth a look.

Which Way to the Car Park?

All in all it was a great afternoon, and I’ll look forward to finding out what the grand total for the afternoon will be. Before I finish though, I’ll leave you with the interesting sign that greeted people driving into the memorial park… The parking was supposed to be to the right, which is the majority decision of the arrows, but at this point most people seem to have got confused and just gone straight ahead to park instead – although from the tracks you can see that people went around both sides of the sign. Jill did run around later on trying to persuade everybody to move their cars away from where they are parked in the picture, in order to try and get everybody better access to the fete, but didn’t get overly far!

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