Newbury Canal Festival
Newbury was the latest destination for the Wildside Preserves bandwagon.
At last the weather was fine and a good crowd virtually guaranteed, so we packed the car the night before and set off ready for a bumper result.
The festival is held in Jubilee Park, a site close to the centre of town, adjacent to the Kennet and Avon Canal and immediately opposite the Kennnet and Avon Trust's HQ. All in all its a lovely location, flat grass with good access, surrounded by trees and with a lovely circular boating lake at its heart.
The slightly odd thing about this festival is the minimal "canal" dimension. It is really just a town fete laid on by the canal society. OK, the local canal trusts were represented but walking up and down the stalls it didn't feel very boaty, and when we mentioned making jam on Wand'ring Bark the customers looked nonplussed. Whilst there were maybe 15 narrowboats moored up I cant see that this is really a boaters event, not that that matters for Wildside - everyone like jam!
The problem was that there must have been seven or eight other preserve stalls and there is only so much jam the festival goers want to buy. Not that we are grumbling, we have been plugging our mini hamper gift packs which sold really well, and people loved the whole foraged dimension so out days sales were at the upper end of what is usual. Hurray for diversification!
A thought for festival organisers. If you want stallholders to return you should try and limit the number of competing stalls or the market isn't enough to go round and the event becomes non viable. I am not suggesting that anyone has exclusivity but maybe three of the same thing is more appropriate.
That said we did OK, had a great day out in the sunshine and made a lot of friends.
Next stop Blisworth in 10 days time.