Black Country Boating Festival
Where have the two weeks gone since the BCBF event at Windmill End?
Helen and Andy manning the stall.
Photo courtesy of a certain Mr Maslin
This year was the 30th anniversary festival and the event was bigger and better than ever, helped along the way with some very kind weather. It rained hard as we set up on Saturday morning and again as we made our way home on the Monday, but for the event itself the sun shone down on us and encouraged the crowds to return to this atmospheric location.
A heaving main drag
The lead in to the festival was not without its traumas. As you will recall, our propshaft coupling had all but failed and the engineer from Oxley Marine showed up to offer a terminal prognosis. Two studs had pulled out of the casting and the other two were loose. We debated the possibility of helicoiling them till we saw that the rubber was parting company from the casting in four places. There was no option but to fit a new unit. Hey ho - it has given good service for 13 years and for the last 5 it has been running with a dodgey pinned stud, so I guess it didn't owe us anything.
As for the festival... what can I say? From a trade point of view it was an absolutely stinking success with sales breaking all records. Our regular customers come back thick and fast so that on the afternoons we didn't sell - we just took £10 notes and filled bags. Attending this festival is a no brainer for us.
But there is so much more to this festival than the trading. From a social perspective it has to be my favourite. We have been going so long that the organisers are now friends. Then there are the other traders who we see every year and we make the most of the opportunity to share a bevvy or three and indulge in a game of cards. Of course, this activity seems to centre on The Homebrew Boat with Sandra and Barry.
The Jam Butty in fighting trim
One facet I really like about this event is the local participation which manifests itself in the Church in the Beer Tent where the local churches come together to worship. The preacher was a bit long but delivered an interesting take on the Syrian refugees, likening then to the Good Samaritan parable. The other local angle was the inclusion of a second entertainment venue complete with bar and burger van. The stage was populated with local talent some of which were very, very good.
The second stage
All in all an excellent 30th anniversary event.
Will we be back next year? You bet we will - all booked and paid for!
Our journey home was helped by Chris Dinsdale who met us outside the Netherton Tunnel. In spite of the rain we still gathered Blackberries and Elderberries, yours truly losing a fork in the top lock of the Rushall flight. The Sea Searcher came to my rescue and after a minute or two the gleaming implement emerged much to the amazement of Chris and Helen. Halfie will appreciate this!