Food, Folk n’ Fun Festival was a truly community centred and inclusive event, writes Robert Smith, chair of the Ladywell Society.
On a Sunday morning (July 23 2023) blessed with good weather after so many turbulent ones, Ladywell Village reverberated to the sound of ringing bells and clashing sticks as Quaggy Morris regaled us with their traditional dancing.
As some looked on in pleasant surprise, the more adventurous followed on behind until the impromptu parade met the
Speaker of Lewisham Council, Cllr Tauseef Anwar, in his chain of office and fine red robes at the railway bridge entrance to Ladywell Fields.
They were soon joined by a Chinese Dragon and surprised en route by the traditional Jack-in-the-Green seen last year for the first time in Ladywell in 119 years.
This unlikely procession weaved its way through Ladywell Fields, North Field, across the bridge and into the event space of the Ladywell Food, Folk n’ Fun Festival to cheers and applause.
“What a way to start the Festival,” declared the MC, Stuart Lugg! Opening remarks from Cllr Tauseef Anwar and Sam Hawksley CEO of Lewisham Local marked the official opening.
Thus began the biggest and best Festival in Ladywell Fields for many years. Even the organisers, Lewisham Local, GFMA (Global Fusion Music and Arts) and the Ladywell Society were surprised by the support provided by local residents and visitors from further afield.
This was a truly community centred and inclusive event where there was so much to do whatever your age. There were stalls selling a variety of food and drink as well as the park based Good Hope Café.
Local charities, organisations and small businesses were all represented. The fun fair and free donkey rides, static falconry display and urban beekeeping exhibit, and children’s drawing competition kept children and families happy.
The local Safer Neighbourhood Team interacted freely with the public as did the mounted branch of the force. The Fire Service brought a fire engine for the children to look over.
The programme in the arena began with the Quaggy Community Choir, followed by the Silk Road Duo, comprising the internationally renown Chinese star Cheng Yu (Pipa) and Wang Xiao).
The international folk theme continued with Siddhiile Kapshikarr (harmonium and vocals) and Bharat Chhabhadia on Tabla showcasing Indian music.
Isobel Kimberely, who performed at last year’s Ladywell World Folk Music Festival then took to the stage with some traditional songs. For the finale the very energetic Bantu Arts brought the festivities to a close in fine style with music and dancing from Uganda, East Africa.
In between acts, we were entertained by community dancing with Quaggy Morris, where the audience were invited to join in. Following on, the Chinese Lion entered the arena along with the Chinese Dragon and the Jack-in-the Green made another appearance.
Robert Smith, chair of the Ladywell Society said that combining the efforts of the three organisations had meant that this year’s festival was greater than the sum of the events each group had organised in previous years.
It seems Ladywell agreed by coming in even greater numbers and leaving with smiles on their faces and nothing but praise for a truly wonderful day.