Tamworth’s Castle Grounds were packed with a record-breaking number of people on Saturday, April 20, for the hottest St George’s Day extravaganza ever!
Soaring numbers came on a glorious hot day, as estimated crowds of over 13,000 people enjoyed the medieval-themed fun and festivities on offer.
Ankerside had a massive footfall, with visitors taking part in the free ‘blooming’ arts and crafts workshops and collecting their seeds ready for the first Big Sow at the riverbank at 2pm. The community seeding took place with the Tamworth in Bloom team, with over 40 participants, including visitors from Australia, sowing seeds for this year’s in Bloom campaign.
New for 2019, was the launch of the Tree Cosy project, where people were able to collect knitting pattern packs, including wool and knitting needles, from a stall located in the grounds and the Community Together CIC hub at Tamworth Activity Centre. The new ‘CommuKnitty’ project aims to brighten up Tamworth’s open spaces by inviting people to ‘button up the bark’ of local trees with a knitted ‘tree cosy’, or to knit a ‘forget-me-not’ flower – the Alzheimer’s Society logo - to raise awareness to make Tamworth even more dementia friendly.
Families enjoyed free festival highlights at the extravaganza which included all the festival favourites such as jousting, falconry displays, a living history camp, stalls, fairground rides and children’s activities. This year we welcomed a new fire-breathing dragon to the festival. Knight of the Realm, Sir Fey, assisted by Bumfleas, brought Smoked the Dragon to enthral the crowds with comedic mayhem, audience participation, magical mystery and physical comedy.
The popular Grand Medieval Joust remains a firm favourite as thousands of people gathered around the lower lawn to watch for the first time in Tamworth, the Cavalry of Heroes. Live action and tricks never seen before; unfolded as knights on horseback, including the legendary St George and the infamous Dark Knight Lord Pendragon, came to do battle in the main arena. Throughout the day, knights also demonstrated the variety of weapons and combat methods used during medieval skirmishes.
Entertainment was also located under the Town Hall with a pop-up performance of St George and the Turkish Knight by community group Shoebox Theatre alongside lively upbeat songs by ‘Claret’ – an acoustic, electric, folk roots band which had audiences toe tapping and singing along.
Other activities on offer included fairground rides, food and drink, themed activities in Tamworth Castle and the dedicated Children’s Zone organised this year by the Big Bounce, which was enjoyed by hundreds of children throughout the day.
There was also a St George’s Day parade of more than 100 Tamworth scouts who marched through the town centre before renewing their promise in the Castle Grounds.
Mark Burbridge, Centre Manager at Ankerside Shopping Centre, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the success of the St George’s Day activities. It was wonderful to see thousands of families gathered together in the glorious sunshine for the event, which had something for everyone.
“The excellent atmosphere from the Castle Grounds flowed into Ankerside where we hosted the shield-making day, as well as The Big Sow arts and crafts sessions as part of Blooming Tamworth. The floral designs looked fantastic and what a creative bunch of children we have here in the town.
“Our gardening workshops were also great fun and we’d love for our guests to keep us updated on our Facebook page with photos of how their sunflowers are growing.
“It has been such a pleasure chatting with members of the public and welcoming them to the celebrations. We’ve enjoyed the highest footfall to date for St George’s Day and couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Visitors took to social media throughout the day and afterwards to share their pictures and praise for the event:
Heather Jacob said: “Great day. Credit to Tamworth, it gets better every year.”
Tom Gracie added: “Was great, you all did an amazing job! I really enjoyed myself.”
Emily Reading stated: “Very well done. Well organised, well run. I am very proud to be from Tamworth.”
Susie Morgan said: “A great day and great for Tamworth to attract new visitors.” And Emma Du-Prât said: “Such an amazing free event - thank you so much for organising it!”
The free annual St George’s Day festival is one of the highlights of Tamworth’s impressive calendar of outdoor events organised by Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts & Events team in partnership with Ankerside Shopping Centre.
Andrew Barratt, Tamworth Borough Council’s Chief Executive, said: “The St George’s Day festival continues to be one of our most popular events and the Arts & Events team work hard to ensure it continues to live up to and even exceed expectations each year.
“It was great to see so many people enjoying the activities and entertainment on offer in the glorious sunshine. The large attendance figure is great news and will hopefully help to draw more visitors to Tamworth town centre in the future.”