Swindon’s traditional Children’s Fete celebrate its 150th year on Saturday 9 July at GWR Park, Faringdon Road – it’s free to enter, and there is cake for the kids.
The fete, which first began in 1866, was established by the first generation of Great Western Railway workers and was organised from their premises, the Mechanics’ Institution. The original event ran right up until the Second World War, but was resurrected by Swindon Mechanics’ Institution Trust in 2003.
This year’s entertainment includes a steam-powered carousel and an original-style wooden Helter-Skelter. There are reports of the famous 19th Century French tightrope walker Charles Blondin will make an appearance.
“We’re very excited to be able to deliver what should be a really special event for Swindon,” said event coordinator Hannah Parry. “It happens to coincide with the 175th Anniversary of ‘New Swindon,’ when the GWR came to Swindon, presenting the opportunity to celebrate a great year for our town. The fete really is a town-wide event which seeks to provide entertainment for everyone. We want to celebrate our heritage but also Swindon’s present day culture and communit. There’s so much great stuff happening here, we really want to pull it all together and just show it off.
“This year we are focusing on a theme of ‘Coming to Swindon’. As a new town, what’s made Swindon great and why have have you come here from across the UK and from other countries.”
Throughout the day the event will tell the story of all the groups of people who have come to Swindon over the years and helped create our community, the Welsh steelworkers who came to work in the town’s GWR works in the 19th Century, the large Polish and Italian communities, people from Jamaica, the Indian sub-continent, Afro-Indian, Portuguese, Goan and Nepal. And food being what brings us together, there will lots of stalls to help celebrate the culturally diversity of Swindon.
As well as the dance and theatre performances on the main stage, there will also be a community stage, for smaller groups or schools, and Swindon Shuffle – celebrating its tenth year – will be running a live music stage through the day and into the evening.
The daytime event from 12noon, will be filled with performances, arts and sports activities, circus workshops, face-painting, funfairs and other fun. There will also be free cake offered for kids at 4pm, which is one of the elements of the historical event the Trust has managed to keep every year.
At one event in the past, up to four tons of fruit cake were baked for the event, and organisers even made their own cake cutting machine as there was so much to deal with. This year children will receive tasty cupcakes.
The evening will be geared around live music and possibly some theatre, with a grand finale fireworks display just before 10pm.
To get involved in the event, would like to sponsor an element of it, or offer your volunteering skills, contact Hannah by emailing email@example.com or telephone 01793 520592.