16 July 2015

Shepton Mallet: Somerset's Festival Town!

Sssh, there's nothing to see here, move along please, there are no festivals here!

Shepton Mallet: Somerset's Festival Town!
Wow! Why would you say that? Why would you want to plaster that on every sign post as you enter our town? Why? Is that even TRUE?

1/ 'Glastonbury Festival is the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world and a template for all the festivals that have come after it.' (Official Glastonbury Festival Website) and Shepton Mallet is the nearest town to the world's largest greenfield music and performing arts festival! Why should we not bask in that reflected glory and embrace that amazing association? Our town is crammed with people visiting because of Glastonbury Festival, it's only for a few days of the year....but then other towns that capitalise on historical events, for instance, are only referring to something that's history and isn't going to happen again! There are film and TV crews and media companies from all over the world to film this event and it is imperative that we embrace our close association with this phenomenal happening! The link being made clear is long overdue.

2/ The Royal Bath and West Showground is in Shepton Mallet and the NASS Festival, The New Wine Festival, The Soul Survivor Festival, The Somerset Food and Drink Fest and West Fest, are all held there. Plus there are several events and shows, which are festival-like in nature although not in name, such as the Royal Bath and West Show, The Giant Flea, The Motor Home Show and other big events and happenings. The word Festival embraces the feel of all these functions and events.

3/ The Mid-somerset Show, or Shepton Show, held on the ground by Cannards Grave Road, is right in Shepton Mallet itself. It's been running for 163 years and attracts thousands of people! That is a really, really big deal! Let's acknowledge it.

4/ Collett Festival, celebrating our own wonderful park and hopefully the slight name change from Collett PARK Festival, will mean the festival spills out from the park and into our High Street and that individual shop keepers are inspired to put on different events, exhibitions and happenings, alongside the celebrations in the park, to raise the profile of Shepton Mallet even more!

5/ The Lantern Parade, is another fantastic reason to visit Shepton Mallet, as an outsider coming from London, that looks pretty much like a festival event to me!

6/ Then we have the absolutely incredible Shepton Mallet CARNIVAL! Filled with lights and music and dancing and theatrical tableaux on floats! You might not know BUT this does not happen in every town! This is a brilliant event and another festivity that we need to proudly proclaim!

7/ In our day to day life, living in this town, no it doesn't feel like one big festival....but for people that visit us, for people that look for accommodation here, for people passing through, or using hotels, or B & Bs and so on, they see us as a Festival Town because that is mainly the reason that people come to Shepton Mallet! We are in the middle of all the festivities!

The only good reason that I can see for NOT plastering 'Somerset's Festival Town' all over the sign posts on the entry to Shepton Mallet is if you just want to keep it a secret and you DON'T want to share the fun, with anyone else, from anywhere else, you want to keep it under your hat and don't want anyone else to know.

The truth is, WE ARE SOMERSET'S FESTIVAL TOWN and we ought to enjoy and embrace that title and feel proud and sing it out loud and be thankful that somebody with brains, balls and vision has pointed it out to us! This title is more than a title, it's the key to us recognising our strength and to let other people know about it. It's the key to reviving our economy, to boosting our morale and to at last realising our TRUE identity!
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