Delighted organisers of Wootton Bassett’s Art Festival have vowed to hold the event again next year after a successful weekend.

The four-day festival, which kicked off on Thursday, showcased the town’s finest talent in categories including music, speech, drama and creative writing.

Chairman of the committee Janet Chaplin said she was blown away by the popularity of the this year’s festival, which attracted almost 500 entries in 81 classes.

She said: “This festival has been an explosion of fun and talent.

“In the autumn, Wootton Bassett Arts Festival will be confirmed as a full member of the Federation of Festivals, of which there are 300 in this country.”

On Friday, children from eight schools, including Wootton Bassett Infants, St Bartholomew’s, St Mary’s School in Purton, Cherhill and Lydiard Millicent School took part in the choir competition.

The children also observed several minutes silence as a repatriation cortege passed through the High Street during the afternoon.

Committee member Jacquie De Creed said: “The young competitors are always terribly nervous.

“The wonderful thing about festivals such as this, is that they teach children and adults skills for life. To be able to communicate to a large audience is an incredibly daunting experience, but everybody had learned to overcome their fears and performed to a very high standard.”

The Highlights concert in the Memorial Hall on Sunday evening was a memorable finale to the festival.

It featured Ryan Curtis on electric guitar, Joy Boole on clarinet; Andrew Fielden on trombone, Georgina Lowe on the cello; Hockaday Infants’ delightful choral speaking, piano solos by Maia Jarvis, Olivia Clarke, Oliver Bullock, Rosanna Fish, Theo Lukens and Kirsty Chaplin, who also played the harp, and recited her original poem Harp of My Heart.

Six-year-old Liberty Shirnia charmed everyone with a poem about measles; Ellie Hyde-Bates played the violin, Gregory Strangword-Price recited a Lion poem, and Ciara Parker-Northeast played the recorder.

Solo vocalists were Deanna Aspell, Matilda Wale and Joanna Peskett. Drama was provided by The Enthusiasts, a group of four children who staged a superb Wizard of Oz excerpt; Holly Lamb, in an excerpt from Five Finger Exercise, a duologue by Daisy Robb and Ella Milne, the Clarendon Players in an adaptation from The Close, and Margaret Williams’ extract from Night Out by Harold Pinter.

Jane Wade read her original story, Hiss and Recoil; 12-year-old Emma Bessant read her remarkable entry, from the under-14 class, I Belong to No Man, told from the perspective of a slave transported from Africa and Baker’s Dozen performed madrigals to round off a splendid programme.

Town mayor Steve Bucknell also presented an award to Ciara Parker-Northeast for her performance with the recorder.

Thanks were expressed to all the sponsors, volunteers and participants, and to adjudicators Jeffrey Wynn Davies (music); Janet Tuckett, (speech and drama) and Godfrey Room, (creative writing).