This is the 40th year of this amazing festival where a sleepy village is transformed into a bustling market very much like it must’ve been in the Middle Ages. Mells has only one street and it is very historical in nature. We arrived about 11 o’clock, the official opening time, to find there were hundreds of people already there. Bearing in mind the wonderful weather, this was not surprising. Because I am an organiser, I’m on the lookout for how things are organised and this event did pretty well.
Here are the main points that you might like to bear in mind if you organise something (Skip this if you want to move forward to the pictures)
1. Volunteers are vital. You will probably need more than you think you will. I reckon there were about 100 altogether.
2. If it is paid access, take time to get the price right. In the case of this festival it was three pounds ahead and children free. This will depend on your being able to get sponsorship, in part at any rate, so you might want to try to get sponsors on board earlier rather than later.
3. car parking is vital or at least helpful and in this case they found a friendly farmer who allowed his very healthy looking greenery to be driven over by hundreds of cars
4. Signage. It may be worth paying the AA to sign the event. They know what they are doing and what is legal and what is not. The AA brand does add status to the event
5. They should be separate car parking for the market stall holders who will probably want to make an early start. I expect that people started turning up from about seven o’clock. Some stands take a long time to set up
6. The map of the site and a timetable of events should be clearly listed and given to everyone if possible. Consider people wearing bands to identify the fact that they have paid and so they can come and go as they please.
7. Events should start on time and finish on time
8. Contingency plans should be made in case of inclement weather.
9. you have to agree with the authorities well in advance where the monitoring points will be and who can drive where and which streets to close. People who live in the restricted streets will have a right of egress.
10. Allow space for stalls and features and don’t cram them up though they may look lonely with no public there. There is nothing worse than an overcrowded event.
My commentary for this event will be appended to the various images that follow. they are in no particular order.
There were about 10 town criers competing. This chap was the first one and in my opinion the best. I was disappointed with them because they had not made any special attempt to make a poem or timely speech or period piece. If you’re going to bother to dress up in period costume then at least act the part. This is something over which the organisers have little if any control. This crier did Wells proud. Distinguish between Wells and Mells.
We left after about four hours. The music went on well into the evening but I was too footsore to walk around more. I find walking slowly and intermittently far more exhausting than going on a long walk.
And so ended a wonderful Easter holiday.