If you’re looking for a day and evening out near Shaftesbury this Saturday, 7th July, head for Sixpenny Handley. The village is hosting a family-friendly day filled with food, fine music and entertainment.
‘The Big Session’ is promising eight hours of music and activities centred on the cricket ground. “We don’t have a fete as such, so we decided to put this on,” said Naomi Booth. Naomi is one of the three committee members who are putting on this event for a third time. Her team also host the Sixpenny Sessions during the year.
“We have folk and roots bands that come in and play at our village hall,” Naomi explained. The Big Session is an extension of those regular gigs. “We didn’t have a summer event so we thought that we would get some of these bands back and we could have the families come. Obviously, if you have an evening event, it’s not something the families can come to easily,” said Naomi.
As Sixpenny Sessions have grown in popularity, performers have started approaching the organisers. “We get bands that contact us. We listen to them and we book them if we think they would be good for the sessions.
“We have some favourites,” said Naomi. “There’s the Skittle Alley Strummers. They are a local band and they are going to arrange a workshop for anybody who wants to bring their ukulele along. We had the Polly Morris Band in the autumn. They were so much fun. We had to share these guys. It’s like a soap. Every one of their songs is a story. They make you laugh or make you think. They take you on a journey,” said Naomi.
The Big Session promises more ukulele playing from Bournemouth-based three-piece band, Mother Ukers. Cash Converted perform country and rockabilly while Charlie Woodford, Vanilla Radio and Tom Clements complete the line-up.
Ticketholders can turn up when the gates open at 1.30pm and stay on site until the end of the events at 10pm. “Once you have got your ticket, you can come in and listen. Or you can go to the bar. They’ve agreed to show the football!” Naomi laughed.
“The recreation ground at Sixpenny Handley is split down the middle. We have the car park around the Village Hall, and then you go up to the Pavilion, which hosts the Penny Tap, our local bar and the cricket pitch. There’s a beautiful bowl effect. All of our activities and our music is on there. There’s also outdoor bowls and the tennis club will open up too,” Naomi added.
One of the popular attractions is the hay bale maze. “The children love it,” said Naomi. “We made an intricate pattern the first year. Toddlers walked around it at first, then they started jumping on it. It was just so well used. We had no idea what an important part of the day it would become, the first time we did it. I don’t think we could do without one now,” Naomi said.
Younger attendees can enjoy the outdoor children’s games and circus skills sessions. The Scouts are operating a barbecue and there will be pizza, ice creams, teas and coffees. And it’s summer so yes, Pimms will be offered!
Naomi says the event was devised to fill the entertainment gaps in the years between the village’s popular Waistcoat Festivals. “The Waistcoat Festival started in Sixpenny Handley because they had a big fire here in 1892. We did it as a commemoration, so everybody could learn the history of it. Most of the village burned down because the cottages were thatched. Villagers were given so many waistcoats it was said that you could tell a Handley man because of the amount of waistcoats he wore,” Naomi explained.
Tickets are available in the village’s mini market. Adult entrance is £10, a child’s ticket is £2.50 and you can buy a family pass for 2 adults and 2 children for £20.
You can also purchase tickets on Eventbrite. The online ticket agency adds a small handling charge.