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All the ingredients for a fantastic fete!

Crich Village Fete

Crich Fete is an annual event held on Crich Recreation Ground in mid-July.

In common with tradition in many villages, the original format of the current-day fete was a carnival, starting with the crowning of the Carnival Queen in the village square. Floats, decorated prams and bicycles and people in fancy dress would parade through the village to Fritchley and back to the fete field on the common.

The Crich Parish Council web pages have an article describing the Crich Carnival from 1934, the highlight of which was a Loch Ness monster, 30ft in length, being shepherded by the Girl Guides, and a boy dressed as a Brussels sprout (winning second prize in the fancy dress). All accompanied by music provided by the Crich Silver Band.

It is notable that in 1934 the committee experienced the same pressures that we have today – ie, funding. The current Fete Committee consists of around 10 volunteers, who meet on a monthly basis throughout the year. The planning for the next fete starts immediately after the end of the last.

The main aim is to allow people from the community to gather together and have a fun and relaxing time. However, it also holds at its heart the opportunity for local groups and charities to raise funds for their own projects.

Circus skills at the fete

The fete itself does not aim to make a profit and is funded by the organisation of other events in the village. Our main fundraising event is the bonfire and fireworks display held each year on 5 November. Additionally, every other year we organise the village barn dance and we also raise a small amount through the provision of refreshments at the Carols Around the Tree Service at Christmas. We receive a small grant from the Parish Council, for which we are extremely grateful.

The fete costs at least £2,000 to stage, considering the costs of things like arena and other entertainments, bands, climbing walls, bouncy castles, maintenance of tents and other equipment, removal of rubbish, insurance, first aid and the provision of toilets.

Fete day itself is a flurry of activity. At 7am the committee, along with our loyal band of family and friends, gathers to transport the tents, chairs, tables, bunting and bins the short journey to the recreation ground.

Then it takes several hours to create some semblance of order. It is always a bit nerve-racking as it’s only possible to plan a certain amount in advance. We always expect the unexpected – and we always get it!

We have been doing this for some years now, so it is something of a well-oiled machine but, as they say in the Army, no plan survives first contact and we’ve had episodes where the entertainer has got on the wrong train and has had to be chased across Derbyshire to be collected and brought to the field at the last minute. We have had to clear the acts’ ‘droppings’ to allow for the dancing teams, and marshal men in kilts down from the fire station. We’ve realised the toilets haven’t arrived as 250 race runners need their pre-race nervous pee (the toilet man had forgotten!) and breathed a sigh of relief (excuse the pun) as the toilets bounced their way over the field, pulled along at speed. We have had to construct emergency shelters for hot horses and improvise communication systems as the PA has failed yet again – but these are the exceptions and normally all is fairly smooth.

cakes at the fete

The afternoon passes in a blur, but it is nice to get a couple of minutes to stand on the bank and look at all the people in the field and hear the sound of children enjoying themselves, laughter rising up, and admire the colour and busyness that is those few hours once a year. Then we take it all down again, apart from the marquees, which are used for Active Crich events the next day. We do a litter sweep, enjoy a beer, some of the group sleep on the field with their dogs to guard the tents – but the rest wend their weary way home and all is over for another year.

In recent years, building on the success of the (separately run) Crich well dressings the week before, we have encouraged other events around the time of the fete to create a truly inclusive set of activities with something for everyone. Last year saw the first Crich Open Gardens event and the Crich Fitness Fortnight, now rebranded as Active Crich for Everyone (ACE). We would welcome other groups to suggest events which they could run during this time and will provide support and publicity where we can.

This year’s fete takes place on 13 July and planning is well advanced.

So far we have a Spitfire fly-past, The Barlow Red Barrows, a steel band, all the usual side shows, Crich Brass, Village Games, a dog show, bar, tea tent, BBQ, ice creams and much more. This year also sees the 10th anniversary of the Crich Monument Race, so all the runners will need a special cheer.

We are looking for entries to the Village Games. These are for teams of two children or four adults. The format is an obstacle race with water and lots of laughter, so please join in. You can enter on the day or let our Facebook team know beforehand as this helps planning.

Entry to the dog show is on the day. We have the usual ‘kennel club’ categories: waggiest tail, most like owner, biggest smile, most obedient, and nicest outfit.

The Fete Committee extends thanks to the Parish Council for its ongoing support and to the local residents for their patience and understanding on fete days.