Category Archives: Events

NEW! SOMERSET COUNTY SHOW LAUNCHES THIS YEAR

Many people have asked why Somerset has no County Show, well now at last it has and in the county town of Taunton! The two-day event is now scheduled to be held at Taunton Racecourse on an annual basis, every September. Plans for the 2019 event, which takes place on 20 and 21 September, are well underway with a huge array of activities and displays already booked.

The show is designed to showcase the very best that Somerset has to offer, with the emphasis on individual and community participation. As befitting the venue, equestrian enthusiasts will be well catered for, with polo and the Pony Club all represented, along with the hugely entertaining British trials and scurry driving team event – and The Shetland Pony Grand National, to name but a few.

Field sports of all disciplines are included, with a challenging open clay shoot, gun dog scurries, fly casting, falconry, archery and air rifle range, with have-a-go facilities available under expert supervision.

For dog lovers there are gun dog demonstrations and competitions, agility, exhibitions, and a fun dog show, so bring your dog on a lead with you!

Tone FM are hosting a community stage providing up and coming entertainers, bands and choirs a chance to perform in public, so if you “have got talent” get in touch to book your slot! Celebrity chef Lesley Waters is hosting cookery demonstrations throughout the weekend and creating a range of dishes using local produce available from the many artisan producers in the food and drinks hall.

There will also be plenty of street foods to enjoy, with local beer and cider provided. Classic and Vintage cars will be converging from all over the county, and no show would be complete without the smell and sounds of the steam engines. There are also plenty of activities for the children to enjoy, including a puppet show, fun fair, climbing wall, bouncy castles and ferret racing!

If you are interested in being part of this prestigious event or would like trade space or sponsorship details, contact Sharon Mitchell on 07739 964843 or by email on sharon@somersetcountyshow.co.uk.

STEAM PUNK FESTIVAL COMES TO THE REGAL THEATRE, MINEHEAD

Steam Punk is a nationwide organisation, promoting events across the UK which attract crowds of people who arrive in their steampunk gear. As part of the Minehead Early May Steampunk Festival there will be two events at the Regal Theatre on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 May.

On Saturday the Steampunk Cabaret Show will stage Victor Sierra, a three-piece band from Paris featuring Commander Bob, The Legendary Converted Princess and Big Machine. They have played at steampunk festivals in Europe, the UK, and America and have produced five well-received albums of original music.

Acting as Master of Ceremonies will be Greg Chapman (pictured), magician, comedian, juggler, unicyclist, escapologist and storyteller – one can never tell what he’ll do next!  He will introduce support acts, Doctor Gray and his Orchestra of One, Kiss Like Ether, Ichabod Steam, the beautiful Lux DeLioux and Ichabod Steam performing his new Dark Side Gothic Adventure.

On Sunday at the Steampunk Variety Show, MC Greg Chapman will appear again to introduce The Wattingers who describe themselves as Slaughterhouse Steampunk Blues.  These brilliant musicians present their original songs and videos with a dark sense of humour.  Support acts include Kiss Like Ether, The Retro Clones (one-man act supported by moving images of himself playing other instruments), and the beautiful Lux DeLioux.  (Same lovely Lux, different routine!)

Both performances starts at 7.30pm and tickets cost as follows: Adults £16, Friends £15.50, students/children/ES40s £10. They are available from the Regal Box Office (01643 706430), which is open
10am-3pm Monday-Saturday or online at www.regaltheatre.co.uk.

TOBY BUCKLAND’S GARDEN FESTIVAL COMING UP

Garden presenter Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival is back for a sixth year in 2019 and it’s going to be a treat for fans of TV gardening. Popular presenters from BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World – Joe Swift and Frances Tophill – are speaking at the award-winning event on 3 and 4 May at Powderham Castle, near Exeter in Devon, along with actor John Challis – better known as ‘Boycie’ from Only Fools and Horses – and RHS judge Jim Buttress.

Garden designer Joe Swift has been one of the main presenters on the BBC Two’s flagship gardening show since 1998 and is speaking on Friday 3 May. Frances Tophill, who travels the UK presenting on GW and ITV’s Love Your Garden, is at the festival on Saturday 4 May. Frances hails from Kent but now lives near the sea in Exeter and takes a keen interest in coastal gardens.

Toby says, “I’m delighted to welcome two high-calibre gardeners who really know their onions, both ornamental and edible!”

Talks are held in Powderham Castle’s magnificent wood-panelled Dining Hall and are free to festival visitors. Other highlights include a new larger VIP area, a new layout providing more under-cover space in the castle’s old riding stables and a new talks tent, plus the festival is now dog-friendly for the first time.

Tickets are now on sale and cost £10 for adults (children under 12 go free). VIP tickets cost. £55 See www.tobygardenfest.co.uk for more information.

EASTER EVENTS AT ROSEMOOR

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Rosemoor in Devon has teamed up with publisher Macmillan Children’s Books for an exciting programme of family fun during the Easter Holidays (6-22 April), based on The Rhyming Rabbit, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Lydia Monks.

The Rhyming Rabbit is a clever adventure from the picture book partnership of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, creators of What the Ladybird Heard and Sugarlump and the Unicorn. With brilliant rhyming verse, bright and distinctive illustrations, this story is a delight to read aloud.

Families can enjoy The Rhyming Rabbit Hop About Trail which will take them around the garden, meeting the Rhyming Rabbit’s animal friends along the way. Youngsters can also take part in craft activities such as the chance to make their very own rabbit headband. Other workshops will help families explore how animals live in the wild and in their gardens, how plants help to sustain them and what they can do to support wildlife of all kinds.

Amanda Cole, Head of Marketing at the RHS, says: “The Rhyming Rabbit is a delightful tale of exploring the world around us and making new friends in unlikely places, and we are thrilled to be bringing the story to life in our gardens this Easter. Just like the character in the book, our visitors will discover all kinds of creatures and plants as they journey around the gardens.”

Alyx Price, Communications Director at Macmillan Children’s Books, adds: “We are delighted to be partnering with the RHS again in 2019. Together we can introduce The Rhyming Rabbit and his friends to a wide audience this Easter and the activities promise to be great fun for all ages.”

Other activities taking place this Easter include: The Golden Carrot hunt when families can solve the clues leading to the location of the Golden Carrot on a map for a chance to win books and RHS prizes.

At the start of the school holidays on 6 and 7 April, Rosemoor is hosting a brand new event – Wool & Yarn Fest. This will include a wealth of traders and displays of products from talented local craftspeople as well as a number of demonstrations and workshops using these versatile materials. In addition, there will be young alpacas and spring lambs for all the family to meet.

On Tuesday 9 and 16 April, The Really Wild Learning Show with Kim Insull returns to Rosemoor with his collection of minibeasts and creatures to get up close with, some of which are laying eggs! This is a ticketed event (plus normal garden admission) and there is limited capacity of 30 children per show priced at £2.50 per child (aged 3yrs and over) and tickets need to be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.

For more information and to book tickets, please visit the website rhs.org.uk/rosemoor or phone 01805 626810.

LORNA DOONE ANNIVERSARY EVENTS BEGIN IN APRIL

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by Victorian author R.D. Blackmore. This classic novel, set within the atmospheric Exmoor National Park, has never been out of print. Inspired by the natural beauty of the area, Blackmore’s love story includes historic events, such as The Great Winter and the Monmouth Rebellion, within the book as well as various local legends of the notorious Doones and the highway man Tom Faggus. The vivid descriptions of the most stunning, remote and rugged parts of Exmoor still apply today.

Throughout 2019 there will be a whole host of events to celebrate Lorna Doone and the special landscapes that gave rise to this ever-popular story. The focal point of this anniversary will be the Dulverton Heritage Centre who are holding a year-long exhibition starting in April. Curator Sue Baker explains, “The exhibition is a celebration of Lorna Doone; the author, story, setting and characters of this enduring love story.” She continues, “We’ve also included a feature on how Lorna Doone has been dramatised for stage, television and cinema, with stories of how local people have been involved.”

Visitors can explore the landscape that framed the book with a series of guided walks and talks from Wild About Exmoor throughout the summer. There is a family weekend taking place in Dulverton 29/30 June, complete with dramatic re-enactments. At Valley of Rocks, the Pleasure Dome Theatre Company are putting on outdoor theatre performances of Lorna Doone between 20 and 31 August as the sun sets.

The prestigious Two Moors Festival is also involved. The festival’s Artistic Director, Penny Adie, has commissioned a brand new work based on the well-loved story. The composition will be scored for solo voices, choir, instrumentalists and narrator and will be performed at All Saints Church in Dulverton on 12 October with professional musicians and students from Blundells School in Tiverton where Blackmore himself studied. Many other events are taking place.

Jennette Baxter, Marketing Manager for Visit Exmoor, welcomes the celebrations. “Many visitors are inspired to Visit Exmoor after reading Lorna Doone. This special anniversary allows us to highlight the contribution Blackmore’s novel has made to the area. We are delighted that businesses are taking the opportunity to commemorate the occasion. Visit Exmoor has produced a handy pocket guide as an introduction to some of the best places to visit to evoke those Lorna Doone moments.”

Visitors can check all event details and download a guide via www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk or pick up a leaflet at one of the three Exmoor National Park Centres in Dulverton, Lynmouth and Dunster.

Photo courtesy of Lycia Moore, Taunton Garrison

A LIFE IN COLOUR: THE ART OF DORIS HATT

The life and works of a remarkable Somerset artist, with a revolutionary spirit, are being celebrated in a new exhibition opening at the Museum of Somerset on 16 March.

The twentieth-century artist Doris Hatt (1890–1969) was a Somerset pioneer of British modernism. She exhibited her vibrant works over almost five decades, beginning in 1920, and contributed to many exhibitions in the South West.

Sam Astill, Head of Museums at the South West Heritage Trust, said: “Doris Hatt was a woman ahead of her time – a feminist and socialist whose remarkable life and artistic achievements have remained surprisingly little known.”

Doris’ painting style developed over time as she absorbed the major influences of twentieth-century modernism, including cubism, purism, abstraction and the works of Cézanne, Picasso, Braque, Dufy and Léger. Her work includes portraiture, still lifes and landscapes. Clevedon, Watchet, East Quantoxhead and Wedmore are among the recognisable South West landscapes depicted in her art.

Doris’ modernist approach extended beyond her work as an artist. She designed her own Art Deco/Bauhaus style home in Clevedon where she lived with her partner Margery Mack Smith, a school teacher and weaver. It became a meeting place for radical activity in both the arts and politics. As a member of the Communist Party, Doris twice stood unsuccessfully for local election.

Co-curator Denys Wilcox from The Court Gallery added: “For 50 years Doris was an acknowledged but under-appreciated artist. We look forward to this exhibition bringing Doris Hatt the wider recognition she so richly deserves.”

The exhibition ‘A Life in Colour: The Art of Doris Hatt’ is being produced in association with the Court Gallery. It will be open at the Museum of Somerset, Taunton, from 16 March to 29 June.

The Museum of Somerset is part of the South West Heritage Trust, an independent charity that protects and celebrates Somerset and Devon’s rich heritage.

Visit museumofsomerset.org.uk

#dorishattcolour

CONCERT: KEVIN DEMPSEY AND JOW BROUGHTON


Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, are delighted to be welcoming an outstanding duo, Kevin Dempsey and Joe Broughton, to perform at the Manor on Sunday 10 February at 7pm. ​ Since forming in 1999 this duo have recorded four albums and toured extensively in over 20 countries around the world. Combining emotive songs, striking instrumental capability and plenty of energy, they never fail to create a playful and entertaining atmosphere.

Kevin has a fantastic voice and is widely regarded as one of Europe’s great acoustic guitar players, whilst Joe is a master of fiddle pyrotechnics. The list of musicians they have played with is impressive – Whippersnapper, Mary Black, Joss Stone, Dando Shaft, The Urban Folk Quartet, Fairport Convention, The Albion Band, Dave Swarbrick, Percy Sledge, and, of course, folk super group, Bellowhead. To pigeon-hole their style of music would be to do them a disservice. They draw on folk music from all corners of the world and their experience in jazz, soul, classical, pop and Rock music takes their style into original and uncharted territory.

The performance at Halsway will be a small and informal gathering and a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the duo.

Tickets are priced £10; £4 student concessions. Buy securely online at www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a Charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills Halsway Manor provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts. There’s ample free parking onsite, a bar and – of course – beautiful atmospheric settings for concerts with wonderful acoustics, and a chance to catch up with the artists over a drink afterwards!

BACK GARDEN ASTRONOMY WEEK LAUNCHES


Exmoor National Park – an International Dark Sky Reserve – is teaming up with local businesses for Back Garden Astronomy Week (2-10 February), BBC Sky at Night Magazine’s new campaign designed to inspire the nation to discover the wonders of stargazing.

People are invited to sign up in advance at www.skyatnightmagazine.com/backgarden to receive a free 50-page digital starter pack and newsletter, showing them how to find some of the most alluring objects in the night sky, all visible from the back garden with just a pair of binoculars.

Followers of Exmoor National Park on Facebook or Twitter (@ExmoorNP), or readers of their dark skies newsletter (sign up at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/stargazing), could also be in with a chance of winning some great prizes over the course of the week. Wild About Exmoor will be giving away a star-studded guided night walk for up to six people up Dunkery Beacon – the highest point on Exmoor. Those wishing to explore the night sky a little deeper and further during their next stay on Exmoor could win a week’s free hire of an amazing 6-inch Skywatcher Dobsonian telescope from Dark Sky Telescope Hire.

Chris Bramley, Editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine, said: “We’re really excited about this new opportunity to celebrate some of the best sights the night sky has to offer and to help make astronomy more accessible to a wider audience. It’s great that some fantastic partners have joined us in the project, including Exmoor National Park, who have some great giveaways lined up for us.”

Exmoor National Park was designated as Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve in 2011, in recognition of the darkness of the sky and work to limit light pollution. The dark skies are valued and protected by the Exmoor National Park Authority, who also run the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival, taking place from 14 October to 3 November 2019.

Katrina Munro, who coordinates the Festival, said: “People have long visited Exmoor by day for its incredible landscapes and tranquillity, and now more and more are discovering the many wonders of its night skies. We hope that, through this initiative, more budding astronomers will be inspired to come and discover what makes Exmoor so very special for stargazing.”

Look out for a four-page feature on astrophotography in the new issue of Exmoor Magazine, out imminently!

PHOTO: Paul Howell Pictor Images

MINEHEAD LITERARY FESTIVAL AND SHORT STORY COMPETITION

Minehead’s first literary festival will take place on Saturday 27 April at the Methodist Hall, Minehead, featuring presentations by four leading writers with ties to the area who will explore the importance of place in their writing. An art exhibition will also run from April 1 to May 6 at the Regal Theatre and Toucan Wholefoods to celebrate Minehead Literary Festival, with work by local artists which will also focus on the theme of the  importance of place.

Speaking at the literary festival will be one of the country’s foremost writers of novels and short stories, Tessa Hadley. Winner of the 2018 Edge Hill Short Story Prize and author of critically-acclaimed novels Clever Girl, The London Train and The Past, Tessa Hadley has a special connection with the area which shines through her work.
BBC radio producer, writer and bird watcher Tim Dee (pictured) will also share his knowledge of the area and particularly his insights into the natural world. Author of titles including Four Fields and The Running Sky – A Birdwatching Life, Tim is an exceptionally original storyteller, mixing autobiography with nature writing to captivating effect. His most recently published book, Ground Work – Writings on People and Places, is an anthology of new work by some of the most exciting authors writing about the natural world today, and was described in a Guardian review as “an extraordinary and life-affirming book”.

Best-selling author of first novel The Huntingfield Paintress and winner of the Jane Austen Short Story Award in 2014, Pamela Holmes has been fascinated by the area since she lived and worked on a farm on Exmoor in the 1970s (see Exmoor Magazine, Issue 85, Winter 2018, page 92).

For the younger audience, popular local writer Victoria Eveleigh will be giving a special illustrated presentation about her much-loved series of books Katy’s Exmoor Ponies and The Horseshoe Trilogy. Billed as ‘Tea Time with Tortie’, this event promises to be a highlight of the festival and offers a chance to meet the best contemporary writer of pony stories around.

A writing competition, with separate classes for adults and
children, will be organised in the run up to the festival, details of which can be found below. Catering for the Festival will be provided by Toucan Wholefoods.

For more information and details about how to book:
W: www.mineheadliteraryfestival.org
E: mineheadliteraryfestival@gmail.com
T: Janet Styles on 01643 822097.

Minehead Literary Festival: Short Story Competition

Children aged 5 to 9 years old are invited to submit an illustrated story or poem, up to 250 words, using the theme ‘The Magic Train’.

10- to 15-year-olds should compose a short story or poem, up to 500 words, on the theme ‘The Day all the Teachers Disappeared’.

The children’s competition is facilitated by West Somerset Academies Trust and Cafe Write. Please post entries to WSAT, Minehead Middle School, Ponsford Road, Minehead TA24 5RH or email them to mineheadliteraryfestival@gmail.com, to arrive before 31 March 2019, with the competitor’s name, age and contact details.

For adults (16+), the theme is ‘Minehead: Gateway to Exmoor’. Typed entries of up to 500 words, prose or poetry, should be submitted to mineheadliteraryfestival@gmail.com or posted to Literary Festival Comp. 2 Hillview Road, Minehead TA24 8EG, arriving before 31 March 2019; all entries must include the competitor’s name and contact details.

Winners will be announced at Minehead Literary Festival on 27 April.

 Photo by Claire Spottiswoode

SUCCESS AT WESTCOUNTRY EQUINE FAIR

The Westcountry Equine Fair held at Westpoint, Exeter, on 1 and 2 December was a great success for both exhibiting companies and the many competitors and displays taking part.

This year organisers, Contour Exhibitions, saw a fantastic increase in the number of entries to the various competitive events, highlighting the enjoyment people derive from the Fair.

Four Pony Club teams took part in the fast-paced Pony Club Horse & Hound Show Jumping Challenge, with Taunton Vale Harriers the winning team on Saturday 1st. Hattie Barnes riding Star from Tiverton Hunt Pony Club was the most stylish rider and Ruby Russo with Bess from Cotley Hunt Pony Club was the fastest runner. South Pool Pony Club were the winners on Sunday 2 December, with Poppy Burner riding Puff from South Pool Pony Club being the most stylish rider and Jasper Kolowski (Silverton Pony Club) being the fastest runner.

The unaffiliated Quadrille Competition is in its second year and the quality of performances was absolutely amazing. Cornwall Trec Group was the winning team this year with their theme Sister Act at the Moulin Rouge (see photo).

Imagine being a young rider competing in front of a large crowd. 14 youngsters did just that and they were amazing. The Junior Show Jumping Competition sees children 14 years and younger on ponies 13.2hh and under jump a course. Alfie Diaper, age 9, riding Buddy II, was first and also claimed the prize for the most stylish rider; Finlay Adams, age 13, riding Doylan Fairy Footsteps, was second and also best turned out; and Ella Stephens, age 11, riding Amees Flame, took third place.

The Best of the West theme ran through, with some amazing displays from stars from the West of England including John Chubb, Tim Cheffings and the Indoor Driving trials.

This year also saw a large number of new equestrian companies and new products at the show, as well as the old favourites. We look forward to seeing them all again in 2019.

The event is going from strength to strength and we are looking forward to more fun in 2019. The dates are Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 December at Westpoint in Exeter.

Exmoor Magazine’s equine writer, Cindy Cowling, and her daughter Ellen had a great time! Cindy said, “The Westcountry Equine Fair never fails to deliver! The only equine fair in the West Country dedicated to the horse and rider, whether you go to watch one of the indoor Master Classes from some of the country’s top riders, or get up to speed with new innovations such as Husks ‘air technology’, this two-day event should be in every rider’s or equestrian enthusiast’s diary.”