IF you want a real community event then go to Shepley each spring.
For the entire village gets involved in attracting visitors near, far and wide to Shepley Spring Festival. And this year the headline act will be world-renowned singer Elkie Brooks this Thursday with the festival happening over this coming weekend.
The festival was nominated by Harvey Cole who said: “As a Morris Dancer with White Rose Morris Men based in Huddersfield I have been every year since it started in 2007.
“This is not just a festival that happens to take place in Shepley for the benefit of people who come from far and near and who like folk dance and folk singing.
“What actually happens is that for one weekend every May the village of Shepley becomes the festival. Farmers give up their land for parking and camping, people become stewards, the cricket club becomes the festival site, pubs are venues for morris dancing and music sessions.
“For some time before the festival local schools prepare for the Saturday lunchtime schools showcase concert. The village hall and St Paul’s Church are also involved. This year Shepley Band, Shepley Singers, Shelley Music Centre Group and Bolderstone Male Voice Choir all performed in the church.
“All this goes on alongside concerts and events mainly on the festival site featuring some of the most talented artists in the folk music world.”
Harvey added: “There must be huge benefits to Shepley and the surrounding area. The organisers have ploughed funds back into Shepley Cricket Club so enabling them to improve club facilities.’’
Money will also be raised this year for the Meningitis Trust’s Charlie Mann Tribute Fund in memory of cricket club secretary Ian Watkinson’s baby grandson, Charlie Mann, who died from the disease aged just 15 weeks.
Harvey said: “Shepley is now firmly on the ‘festival calendar’ and people come from all over Britain and some from abroad “.
The festival was founded in 2007 by James and Nikki McKinlay, who live in from Lepton as a way of introducing as many people as they can to the folk music scene. It now has 150 volunteers working at the event.
One of the festival's directors, Sally Atkinson, said: “So much hard work goes into it by many, many people on a voluntary basis“. ’’
The festival also coincided with the start of a community choir The Shepley Singers which is still going strong and local charities also have opportunity to raise money through stalls.
Sally added: “The festival’s sustained work with the cricket club had meant that improvements to the facilities and planned improvements have been possible with the festival as partners. This in turn directly benefits the local community all year round. An ongoing legacy of which the festival is really proud.’’
“We put hundreds of voluntary hours into the festival. But the sense of community and the fabulous event that is created from the hard work seems to be all worth it in the end.’’