Hundreds celebrate the arts at Oakham Festival

Oakham Festival Arts rural crafts fair at Oakham Castle - Morris dancers from Black Annis perform a traditional Cotwold dance'Photo: MSMP300613-163js
Oakham Festival Arts rural crafts fair at Oakham Castle - Morris dancers from Black Annis perform a traditional Cotwold dance'Photo: MSMP300613-163js
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Crowds of families were celebrating the arts at an annual festival held in Oakham.

The 10-day Oakham Festival attracted visitors from across the area and hundreds of people were entertained by live music, arts and crafts, and poetry readings throughout.

Oakham Festival Arts rural crafts fair at Oakham Castle - Martin Keeley of Rutland Willows makes a woven willow sculpture'Photo: MSMP300613-112js

Oakham Festival Arts rural crafts fair at Oakham Castle - Martin Keeley of Rutland Willows makes a woven willow sculpture'Photo: MSMP300613-112js

The highlight of the event was the popular Funky Tent weekend at Oakham Castle, which was headlined by indie rockers Toploader on Saturday night.

The castle also hosted the Rural Craft Fair yesterday (Sunday), which featured a range of demonstrations in weaving, painting and cooking, as well as performances in dance, ukuleles and choirs in Oakfest! during the daytime on Saturday.

Festival chairman Joy Everitt said: “The whole festival went really really well.

“The quality of all the events was superb.”

The festival kicked off on June 20, with the East Midlands Book Awards and festival reception at Barnsdale Lodge, and the Funhouse Comedy Club at The Grainstore Brewery.

On June 21, Corby Male Voice Choir performed at St Joseph’s Catholic Church and the Festival Orchestral Concert was held at Oakham School Chapel.

The Rutland Concert Band played to a sellout audience at Oakham Castle on Tuesday last week, which also hosted a poetry workshop by poet John Siddique, who performed a reading, and internationally renowned cellist Matthew Barley, as part of his national tour celebrating Benjamin Britten.

The Big Band Bonanza was held at Oakham School marquee on Thurday, and featured a night of music and festivity led by Oakham’s top jazz musicians and singers.

The festival reached its climax this weekend with the Funky Tent weekend at Oakham Castle.

The weekend featured a singer/songwriter night on Friday, which included performances from Jon Allen, Abi Moore and Lisbee Stainton, who went on to perform at Glastonbury.

More than 800 people saw Toploader play at the castle on Saturday night, with support from Loyd Grossman’s band The New Forbidden, Big Boy Bloater and local band The Chattertons.

The bar was provided by The Grainstore Brewery, while Rutland Lions held a barbecue.

Visitors enjoyed demonstrations in weaving, cooking and willow sculpting, as well as morris dancing, at the Rural Craft Fair yesterday daytime. The event was sponsored by Arts for Rutland and Oakham Town Council, who both sponsored Oakfest! also.

The festival then came to a close yesterday evening, with a collection of folk songs at A Celebration of Early English Music.

Joy said: “There was such a big family atmosphere on the Saturday evening and picnics everywhere across the grounds.

“When Toploader came on it was just fantastic and everyone sang along.

“The Rural Craft Fair was such a lovely day, and over the course of the festival, we had almost double the amount of people than what we had before. It really was a fantastic response.

“We’d like to thank The Grainstore Brewery for its continued support and the Rutland Lions for running the barbecue on Saturday.”

Throughout the festival, people took part in a competition to spot animals in shop windows throughout the town that were knitted by the Oakham Knit and Natter Club.

The winners of the Animals in Literature trail, along with their prizes, were;

Mrs Miller, Graffham Drive, The Osprey Book donated by Tim Mackrill,

Lauren and Ruth Moore, Oakfield, family day ticket donated by Rutland Falconry Centre,

Tomas Dickinson, Beech Road, £20 book token donated by Savvi Travel,

Sian Lewellen, Tolthorpe close, painting donated by Erica Merchant and a signed book donated by Andrew Lucas,

Ruth Lambert, Willow Crescent, book donated by Rex Merchant, £15 flower voucher donated by Sally Holmes and a scarf donated by Snapdragon,

Zoe Wade, Deans Street, bug box donated by Bentleys Pet Housing in Melton Mowbray and an easy stitch kit donated by Altered Images,

Sebatian Constable, Willoughby Gardens, Union Jack mat donated by Carpet World and a bird box donated by Gates Nursery in Cold Overton,

Amelia Dickinson, Beech Road, bug box donated by Gates Nursery in Cold Overton and a Barbie mat donated by Carpet World.

The above winners can collect their prizes by calling organiser Joyce Lucas on 01572 755718.