'It feels like normality': families enjoy Brentwood's Weald Park Country Show
- Credit: Sally Patterson
A Brentwood country fair saw hundreds of stall holders, families and dogs revel in the patchy British sunshine this weekend.
On Saturday, May 22, the annual Weald Park Country Show kicked off what organisers hope will be a summer of fun across the UK.
Annabel Edmundson, who runs Quintessentially British Events with her parents, was thrilled to be hosting the company’s first event since coronavirus restrictions began last year.
She said: “It’s gone really well, we’re pleasantly surprised.
“The weather stuck out, everyone social distanced- it went really well.”
Sprawled across two large fields, the country fair hosted food stalls, cooking displays and vendors selling home-made crafts.
Many stall holders had not been selling their goods since lockdown began, and were delighted to be back out.
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“In fact, the last fair I did before Covid was this one in 2019,” willow-weaver Bob Lever explained.
“It’s weird being back here again, but it's great."
At the next stall, wood-carver Jon Warwicker happily whittled Harry Potter wands to sell at the fair.
The former teacher said: “I saw someone making them badly, and was so fed up with it I thought ‘I could do better than that,’ so the year after children were all running around with my wands instead.”
Vender Jay Hector added: “It’s brilliant to be back, because when I was stuck at home my creative side took a back seat, and there's such a buzz when everyone’s around you."
The two-day event also included a variety of entertainment such as the Zulu Dancers performances, an Abba tribute and wrestling displays.
Some members from the scantily-dressed WrestleForce club had even travelled back from university to take part in the fair because they had missed it so much over the past year.
Dressed as pirates, Ian Britten-Hull and Annie Olbici - The Buccaneers - delighted fair-goers with their sword fights.
Watching the Festival of Dogs, which raised £3,800 for charity in 2019, Jane Duffield said: “It makes a nice change to just do something which feels normal.”
Showing off dog Bella’s rosettes, proud owner Scott Jewitt added: “It’s so nice to be out, it feels like a bit of normality, which is welcome.”
Charlotte Cooper and her three children - seven-year-old Joshua; Jessica, five; and 18-month-old Elliarna - were also proud of dog Pearl’s prizes in the show.
“It’s been really brilliant, we’ve had an amazing day.
“Jessica won the fancy-dress dog show, and Joshua came second in the six-legs competition, and the little one has won a barbie so she’s thrilled.”
Petting zoo owner Gemma Culling and son Mason were pleased to see children interacting with animals again, and using their senses to learn about nature.
Gemma said: “It’s been fab, the people of Brentwood have been amazing.
“Lots of happy faces, getting the kids involved in feeding the sheep, it’s been really good.”
As she introduced her baby brother Alfie to the pets, 12-year-old Reaell Goddard, giggled at his surprised face.
“It’s his first time doing anything like this, and he’s amazed by it all,” she said.
Gemma’s Farm also invited children to feed the sheep, and lead the animals around the field as their parents snapped photographs.
A nearby reptile exhibition showcased snakes, lizards and tortoises alongside information about the animals.
Crowds gathered to watch circus aerial displays, magic and puppet shows.
“It’s been lovely to get out and not have to wear a mask, and to be in the company of other people again and see the children have fun," said Chloe Wakeham from Romford. "It’s been a joy.”
Working in the fried chicken stall, Charlie Rose said it had been a busy day but she was enjoying herself.
“It’s gone really well, and we’ve been so lucky with the weather,” she said.
Manning their stall displaying rifles, bullets and other war memorabilia, Matthew Plumridge, Peter Francis-Wemyss and Linden Chance spent the day speaking to excited children.
The British Rifle Volunteers, who hadn’t seen each other for over a year, stressed the importance of keeping history alive outside of the classroom.
“It’s great to be back together, even if it’s not all of us because of social distancing”, Linden said.