You might spot some rock and pop stars in Motcombe this month, but don’t expect an autograph. They are made of straw!
ThisIsAlfred met Barney Mauleverer, one of the organisers of Motcombe’s second Scarecrow Festival and a very special village fete.
Music legends are already lining Motcombe’s lanes ready for the second Scarecrow Festival. At Bittles Green, Lady Gaga peers out of a topiary archway, staring at Michael Jackson, across the street. Barney says that the 2018 inaugural event was a big success and villagers expect even more mannequins on display this year.
“Last year, it was quite curious. We didn’t know how well it was going to go. And then they started creeping out,” recalled Barney. “People put them outside their front doors for judging, and then they brought them along on fete day. We had seventy in total. This year, we’re hoping for about 100.”
If you hadn’t guessed already, the theme for 2019 is favourite pop singers or music idols. And last-minute entrants can be accommodated ‘right up to the last day’ says Barney. “People should register their scarecrows on MotcombeFete.co.uk. It means we can track them and then we plot them on a map.”
Halfway down the village’s long main street is the curious sight of a ‘stuffing station’. “Last year, we had a very hot summer. Straw was actually quite hard to get hold of. We’ve managed to source some and we’ve put it out for people to go and help themselves, so there is no blocker to building a scarecrow,” Barney said.
This attention-to-detail and in-depth planning is just one example of the huge amount of thought that has gone into this year’s event, as anyone visiting the fete’s website or reading their programme will see. And there is a special occasion to mark. The Motcombe Fete and Scarecrow Festival programme on 15th June includes the opening of the new community building, next to the Memorial Hall.
“There’s been a wonderful steering group in the village, who have managed to raise enough funds to put in a second hall. It will give us a huge amount more space to be able to put on events,” said Barney, who added that it will be known as ‘The Clock Hall’.
I asked whether that was because there was a clock on the roof of this new pavilion. “If it’s not there on time, we’ll have to paint one on,” said Barney. “We’ve picked up the keys last week. ATT, the building contractors, did a fantastic job to get it done on time, which we’re delighted with.”
On fete day, the new hall will be decked out with bunting and filled with cream teas, which will be prepared and hosted by the Village Shop team. Barney and many of the 1,500 residents of this village have really gone to town with this fete. The raffle star prize list is impressive. “We’ve been very lucky to have a donation of a flight in a tiger moth. But there are another 27 prizes on the list, all of which are very generous,” said Barney.
There are lots of stalls and attractions. “We’ve got 45 stalls, including a coconut shy and the typical things you might see at the quintessential English fate. We’ve got quite a lot of arena events with animals. We have racing pigs, reared and trained in Motcombe. Last year, they went in a straight line and this year, we’re going to make them go in a circle. We’re looking forward to seeing their coordination on that one. We have got snail racing, which was a big favourite last year and the dog agility show. Bring your own dog,” suggested Barney. “We’ve got six classes from the waggiest tail to the biggest eyes. There are llamas, alpacas and we’ve got a miniature donkey coming along, too.”
The Mere Falconry team is planning a display in the sky above the field. There will also be lots of physical activities to entertain participants or spectators. The primary school pupils will open the event at 1pm with a ‘Wake and Shake’. “You shake your body to loud music and get the adrenaline pumping for a good afternoon of fete-ing,” said Barney. Jazzercise and a grand tug of war will also help attendees burn off some of those cream tea calories.
The musical entertainment, including open mic performers, runs through the afternoon and then, after a brief pause, recommences at 6pm. The evening music and bar is a new addition for 2019.
The returning, headlining band will perform from 1pm and were a surprise addition to the 2018 programme. “The Mangled Wurzels are quite entertaining,” said Barney. “They were paid for last year by a hen party who were staying locally. They were going to put on their own fete for the hen party, but when they found out there was a real one going on down the road, they brought along the group and so we booked them up this year.”
Barney and co-organiser Scott Jackson want the impact of the fete to be felt beyond one day, the 15th of June. The pair have been keen to showcase the range of local services on offer to fete-goers, to help local firms drum up future trade.
“It’s about saying that they’re there. And we should be here to support them, otherwise our local community will suffer. We’ve had unprecedented support from local businesses, but I’ve made it a point that we actually do shine that light on them by putting their logos in the right place,” said Barney. “We’ve got businesses supporting certain stalls. Visit Hillbrush is sponsoring the crockery smash and we’ve got a guy who’s been collecting crockery for free so we can smash it up, like a Greek lunch.”
And Barney says the whole family is welcome. “We’re providing dog bowls, so please bring your canines.” Even though this is a Motcombe-event, Barney welcomes people from neighbouring towns and villages. “I think it’s really important to recognise that you can’t just stand on your own two feet as a village these days. I’d like to think that we’re breaking down any barriers between our neighbouring villages as well.”
Barney says his team has tried to include all Motcombe villagers, too. “Port Regis, the local school, is putting on a minibus service to help elderly residents at The Grange get to the fete and get them back as well,” said Barney. And he hopes that there will be a high level of attendance because the organisers realise how valuable the event is as a village fundraiser.
“Last year, we were really aiming for it to breakeven. After all costs, we raised about £7,000 and that was a nice amount. That has made a difference to lots of groups in the village,” said Barney. We gave it to thirteen different groups around Motcombe, including the two churches and the school. This year, we’re going to make more of an effort and see if we can raise more. If we can get it over £10,000, we would be really happy.”
And with such a full and interesting schedule, Barney predicts a fete day turnout that will double Motcombe’s population. “We reckon we’ll have about 3,000 people this year.”
So bring some cash, some kids and your camera for the scarecrow pictures. “It’s free admission and we try to keep the prices right down as low as possible, so everyone can have a go at everything, without feeling too out of pocket by the end of it.”
You can see a full list of events and activities at MotcombeFete.co.uk.