[A]s the hot weather continued into the weekend locals and visitors flocked into the Keswick Midsummer Festival.
The weekend was kicked off with an evening of Rock in a packed Market Square sponsored by Lake District Hotels. The opening act was Two Lane Road a Country Style duo from the Eden Valley, they were followed by popular local band Water’s Edge.
By the time the Rob Wright performing as Rod Stewart had taken to the stage at 7.30 the square was full with an appreciative crowd who enjoyed a whirlwind tour through the decades of hits from Rod Stewart. The final performance in the square was Ed Sheeran by DE, a stunning tribute act who wowed the crowd with fantastic renditions from Ed Sheeran’s well know repertoire. The whole square was buzzing on a beautiful summers evening.
The evening didn’t stop there as the music carried on in six different venues around the town. Ewan Scarlet was playing at Magnolia, Lewis Forsyth at The Back Bar, Nat Dempsey at The Bank Tavern, Jon Bowie at the Golden Lion, John Penn at The Packhorse Inn and Rory Macdonald at The Skiddaw Hotel.
On Saturday the Festival moved down to Fitz Park, starting with the new event – Landscape Painting Competition. Local artists were invited to come down and take a pitch by the River Greta where they had 4 hours to produce a piece of art. There were 5 entries in this inaugural competition with the winner awarded £100 prize by local artist Celia Burbush, Mayor David Burns, and Anne Marie Theobald from sponsors N4. The winning picture was produced by David Forte, an enticing view down the River Greta.
The fine weather continued into the afternoon on Saturday as the classical music started in Fitz Park for the annual Prom in the Park concert sponsored by Caterite. The park was full of families and groups of friends enjoying leisurely picnics whilst listening to a wonderful selection of classical music and opera. This year the Prom was compered by Andy Hughes and Stuart Gray who entertained the crowd between musical performances. The programme was put together by local musician Shelagh Hughes, who also performed as part of a duet through the evening. The programme included performances from Soprano Emily Robinson and Tenor James Marczak both accompanied by Alex Philips-Yates.
The future for local classical music looks positive if the performances by the Skiddaw strings is anything to go by. Louise Peacock led the group of young violin players through two beautiful sets during the evening.
The versatile Burneside Brass Band took us on a musical journey starting with a piece to mark Armed Forces Day before moving through popular classical pieces and even the theme from Superman. The evening came to a conclusion with Emily Robinson joining the Brass Band for a traditional Last Night of the Proms set, concluding with Land of Hope and Glory where the whole audience joined in with union jacks being waved.
The final event of the weekend was Scruffs, Keswick’s own fun dog show. With the heat and sunshine set to continue extra precautions were taken to look after animal (and human) welfare. Additional gazebos were set up to provide shade, wet towels and water bowls were provided and owners were reminded that the River Greta was close by for any dogs or humans who wanted to take a quick dip! In addition local vet John Boyle from Millcroft Vets was on site.
The day started with a display of medieval hand to hand combat from local dentist James Breedon and his associates from Battle Heritage. With a variety of market stalls set up round the show ring selling goods and refreshments, there was plenty to keep visitors entertained between classes.. This year there was 14 categories plus dogtathlon course (reduced length because of the heat) and terrier racing. Chris Harper from sponsors Podgy Paws reported there were 499 entries this year with 251 presold. With upto 42 entries in each class there were rosettes for places 1-6 plus the special ‘scruffs wooden bone’ for being noticed. First prize and wooden bone winner also got a prize each donated from 28 local businesses.
Professor Paws looked after proceedings in the ring, with almost military precision to get through a class every 15 minutes. Each winning dog was invited back for the Best in Show judging to win the coveted ‘Harry Winter’ Trophy. This year Margaret Purkiss was invited to judge the overall best in show choosing Gyp, the Border Collie winner of the Best Veteran Class owned by Julie Haig. Julie was delighted to win a huge selection of Ezydog items from sponsors Podgy Paws.
Paul Titley, Chair of Keswick Town Council Events Committee, the overall organisers of the festival was delighted with the events this year. “We’ve been delighted with the turnout and appreciative feedback from locals and visitors this year. The format of three, differing events really does offer something for everyone over the weekend. We certainly couldn’t have asked for nicer weather, it was wonderful to see everyone so relaxed at Prom in the Park, the only umbrellas were there for shade! We estimate over 5,000 people attended the festival this year enjoying these free to attend events. We are grateful for the help of our supporters and sponsors – Lake District Hotels, Caterite, Podgy Paws and Geraud Markets, not forgetting the small army of volunteers that make the events happen.”