Making a song and dance at 40th festival bonanza

Dancers from Wath Comprehensive School at the Wath Festival. Picture: Andrew Roe
Dancers from Wath Comprehensive School at the Wath Festival. Picture: Andrew Roe

Thousands of visitors gathered in the streets of Wath to take in culture and music from around the world at the 40th anniversary Wath Festival.

A huge variety of street performers, musicians, folk singers and dancers wowed the crowds with a wealth of artistic talent.

Organiser David Roche said: “The festival was another huge success this year. Despite the cold weather last Saturday large numbers of people enjoyed the dancing, singing and family entertainment.”

As usual the annual throwing of bread buns to an assembled throng took place from Wath Parish Church tower on Saturday morning.

The tradition was started in 1810 by Thomas Tuke, who left a will demanding 40 dozen penny buns be thrown from Wath Parish Church tower every year on Christmas Day forever.

His bequest was made part of the town’s May Day clelebrations and the annual Wath festival. Hundreds gathered below All Saints Tower to catch the rain of bread cakes.

There was a return to a traditional theme, with invited Morris teams and sword dancers joining Wath Morris Team, together with Orlyk Ukrainian Dancers, Frances Cassidy Irish Dancers, Feet First Appalachian Dancers and two Samba Bands. There were several magical moments during the day, including Wath C of E School performing the Wath upon Dearne Sword Dance for the first time in public and John Healey dancing with Maltby Phoenix Sword Dancers.

Mr Roche added: “It was a delight to see performances of dance or song from all of the Wath Schools. All of the acts who played over the weekend provided amazing entertainment”.

All Saints Church was the venue for an early evening concert with Sheffield Folk Chorale whose superb vocal set was stunning .

There were magical moments too during the five afternoon and evening concerts in Montgomery Hall over the weekend.

However, there was consensus that the encore on Friday evening from Fairport Convention, who invited Chris and Kellie While to join them on stage to sing Who Knows Where The Time Goes, was truly special, so moving that it brought tears to many in the audience.

The festival prides itself on providing many opportunities for young people to demonstrate and develop their talents and this was highlighted by the winner of the Wath Festival 2012 Young Performer’s Award, Sanjay Brayne. As the first act of the final concert in Montgomery Hall on Sunday, he enthralled the audience with a virtuosity rarely seen in one so young. There was a lot of interest in a new event at the festival this year - the Emerging Talent Concert saw exceptional sets from four young acts. Young performers from our own community also showed off their talents in two events that took place in the previous week at Montgomery Hall. The Dance Showcase, organised by Karen Murillo saw stunning performances from six local dance schools and the Schools Concert enabled many more local youngsters to excell.

Planning has already started for next year and the committee would like to hear from any potential sponsors as well as volunteers who are prepared to give their time and skills towards making next year’s Wath Festival another huge success.

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