Whitchurch Parish Fete, Warwickshire, 14 August 21

If you look on the OS map, the lost village of Whitchurch-On-Stour is a mere hump of raised ground next to a beautiful old church in the middle of nowhere, by the banks of the river. Being so remote, my expectations for the scale of this event were not great, but to my pleasant surprise the people from all around flocked to make this fete a great success, with the customary splat the rat, bric-a-brac, tea and cakes and other staple village fete fare.

We Morris men (two sets of six once again) seemed to be the main entertainment and were given free rein in the middle of the paddock. We must have danced continually for around an hour and a half! Some of our number had travelled a long way to get there, and all of us were rather hot and tired by the end. As were so close to the River Stour we had to include Stourton Wake in our set as well as most of the rest of our regular dances. The audience was very appreciative, and many of the locals cheerfully joined in with our audience participation version of Sheperd’s Hey. Involving the crowd has always proved a good way of promoting new membership: the young people dancing opposite me enjoyed it so much and said that they would have been interested in joining our side had they not lived in Bristol.

Shepherd’s Hey audience participation! Photo courtesy of Hannah Ekers

The clouds occasionally parted and the sun shone down. It was a beautiful afternoon with good dancing. New recruits, Owen, Matt and Chris are all making great progress. It was also good to welcome back Tommy, who had travelled from Weymouth via Essex to dance with AVMM once again.

Group photo courtesy of Hannah Ekers

We were also pleased to meet up with our old friend the Rev. Stephen Fletcher, former vicar of Adderbury and now plying his trade in the wilds of Warwickshire. As we drove away from the venue, we saw families from the neighbouring villages wandering wearily home down the quiet country lanes, the children’s faces covered in melted ice cream and the parents carrying all kinds of cakes, books and unusable items from the bric-a-brac store.

Our thanks to the Fete organising committee and all those who watched and appreciated our dancing.

David Snell, Bagman