Visitors flock to Chippenham for folk festival, despite rain (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Visitors flock to Chippenham for folk festival, despite rain
STUNNINGLY well' is how organiser Bob Berry described the 37th Chippenham Folk Festival - which is estimated to bring in £500,000 to the town.
The event saw around 2,000 people flock to the town over the Bank Holiday weekend to see Morris dancers, shop and listen to the array of bands and see the performers on show.
Mr Berry and wife Gill have been running the event for ten years and he said: "We did an impact study on what the festival brings to Chippenham and we calculated it's about £500,000 every year.
"We bring 1,800 to 2,000 people and they spend an average of £43 on a daily basis over four days.
"Not to mention the tourism because sometimes people don't take that into account.
"Every town should have a vibrant festival scene."
But, it is not just about the money for Mr Berry, 53, who lives in Potterne, he believes the festival, which was moved to the Olympiad from Monkton Park on Monday because of the heavy rain, gives visitors a great chance to connect.
He said: "It is all about people. On top of the folk people it is an opportunity for people to participate with other people in a close community environment.
"Sometimes everyone wants to be separate and individual. But when it comes down to it we are exactly the same underneath.
"People are talking to each other - if you go into a street in London they don't do that.
"It is that community feel which is the reason we do what we do."
This year is also a landmark festival for Mr Berry, who has been involved with the event for 20 years.
And he is delighted the festival continues to blossom.
He said: "I have always thought ever since been involved, we run the festival in the heart of the community and we want everyone in the community to be a part of it.
"We got involved to help for a year and ten years ago we were asked if we would take on the organisation for a year and we are still here.
"It is not something you can put together in ten minutes, it is a life time effort. 20 years down the line and we are not fed up quite yet."
The festival, which started in Lacock in 1971, attracts folk lovers from all over the country.
Ed Atkinson, a woodturner from Cheltenham has brought his stall with wife Mavis since 1989.
"It is great fun and it is so colourful," he said.
"Another good thing is that it is free. You get families who come for a day out and enjoy themselves - and it also helps the festival and stall holders."
Sam and Beth Jones came from Bournemouth for the first time after friends recommended the event.
"It's bigger than we expected," said Mr Jones.
"There are so many activities and things going on it's really impressive. We didn't expect Chippenham to have an event like this."