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Flower Festival 2012

Clare Bartlett, who led the initiative to hold a Flower Festival in June 2012, here looks back at the successful event. Below are two pieces written when the Festival was first thought of, and during the planning.

As I look back on a miserably wet summer, it may be my memory playing tricks, but there’s one weekend at the end of June that stands out as being full of sunshine and happiness.

And this despite the wet and gusty evening that provided the backdrop for our first event – the drinks reception for our generous sponsors with our special guest, Patricia Routledge, CBE. It was a great occasion, all went smoothly and our 60 or so guests left full of admiration for the displays and pleased to be associated with the Festival. I felt we’d got off to a good start but my sense of satisfaction was short-lived. As I walked home through the garden feeling optimistic for the week-end ahead I came upon one of our large tents up-turned and sprawling over a flower border with the other just about to turn a somersault. A damage limitation exercise to take the wind out of their sails, collapse the tents in the dark and stow them away forced a review of arrangements for refreshments, stalls, demonstrations and talks in time for the scheduled opening at 10am the next morning. Although this was an inauspicious start there was no dampening of enthusiasm, the challenge was met by all involved without fuss and things proceeded as if according to the original plan – evidence if it were needed of everyone’s determination and commitment to make a success of the week-end.

And so it continued – tireless helpers, hundreds involved, young and old, smiling, welcoming faces all around, a genuine sense of purpose and excitement as we launched a new village venture that we hoped would offer something for everyone. The atmosphere throughout was happy and relaxed, each of the weekend’s events was a sell-out, and miraculously the heavens opened only as the cast left the stage as the final words of As You Like It were uttered. From the wonderful array of artwork by both children and adults, cubs selling ice-creams at the play to the exquisite bell-rope of flowers and our very noble volunteer portaloo cleaner, all contributed to the success. Our long-suffering accountant Jeremy Barrett was understandably cautious about announcing a figure immediately as it wasn’t till some time after the event that all the transactions were complete. Our flower supplier’s experience of similar village events suggested that we should hope for around £4000 but in the end it surpassed even our highest expectations. Our objective was to lay a sound foundation for the church roof fund and the final figure of £15675.96 raised was an achievement of which the whole village should be proud.

East Meon gave a warm welcome, hospitality, pleasure and entertainment to well over 1000 appreciative visitors. Yet again we demonstrated what a resourceful and energetic community we live in, what talent we have in our midst and how we can have such fun working together – a successful outcome in every sense and a host of happy memories. I’m sure we all have our personal favourites, but mine was the Garden Club’s displays on the two south windowsills in church giving a wonderful representation of our cottage gardens with the downs beyond. I don’t think I was the only one to be moved almost to tears by the beauty of these creations.

One question remains unanswered – will we do it again? Certainly the committee members have missed our ever more frequent high calorie tea-time meetings, but since we couldn’t have done it without all of you, we would need your support again to repeat it. I don’t think it would be possible or worthwhile as an annual event, but perhaps in 3 or 5 years time………..please let us know what you think.

Brian Biggs and others have contributed to a beautiful photographic record of the Festival, which is now arranged in a hard-back album designed by Sarah Harwood. The album will be on display at the back of the church from the end of November and further copies will be available at £25 each. There will be a list alongside to add your name if you would like to order one.

Plans for a Flower Festival by Gilli Williams 2011

Next June will see the return of a major event to the village for the first time in 25 years. For four days from Friday 22nd June to Monday 25th June the village will be drawing in visitors from miles around to the East Meon Flower Festival.

Central to the Festival will be a floral exhibition, which will fill the church with displays on the theme ‘A Portrait of East Meon’. All the various community groups in the village, including the Garden Club, History Club, Sports Clubs, Allotment Holders, Bell Ringers, Mother and Toddler, Pre-School, School, Choir, Sewing Group and Care Group will work together with the church flower arrangers to mount their displays.

The aim will be to represent the activities of each particular group in flowers, and already ideas are flooding in such as a model historic building made entirely of flowers and a carpet of flowers.

A comprehensive programme of activities in the village will be running alongside the main exhibition. These will include a concert by chamber and jazz groups from the Hampshire Youth Orchestra, an open air theatrical production by the Rain or Shine Company, an art exhibition, a history exhibition and a children’s art competition. Lots of other activities are also in the pipeline.

A core committee of volunteers is already hard at work making plans for the Flower Festival, and many more volunteers will be needed to ensure the success of this event. If you would like to be involved in whatever capacity, we would love to hear from you. The committee is also particularly keen to involve anyone in the village with specialist skills such as graphic design, print management and photography on a commercial basis. Contact Volunteer Coordinators Jane Brown (Tel: 823416) or Susan Davenport (Tel: 823203)

The Flower Festival will, of course, be relying on the support of sponsors as well as ticket sales to provide funding for the event, and sponsorship is being actively sought from local businesses. Sponsors will have various opportunities to publicise their business and will be invited to a special preview evening event. If you would like to be a sponsor, or know a business that might like to be involved, please contact the Flower Festival’s Sponsorship Coordinator Sue Barrett (Tel: 823179). All proceeds from the Flower Festival will go to the Church Roof Fund.

More details about the Flower Festival will be released as they are confirmed. In the meantime, make a note of the dates in your diary. This will be an opportunity for everyone in the village to play a part and enjoy what should be a really special event.
Gilli Williams

Flower Festival starts to take Shape

More details are beginning to emerge about next year’s East Meon Flower Festival which was announced in the last issue of Meon Matters and will be held next year from Friday 22nd June to Monday 25th June.

Excitement is building about the spectacular floral displays which will fill the church and will reflect the many community activities which take place in the village, as well as the varied events which will be running alongside the main Flower Festival.

A core committee is working hard to finalise the programme of events, which will involve many people in the village and should attract visitors from miles around.

The draft programme, which may be subject to changes and additions, is currently as follows:

Throughout the four days: Floral exhibits in the church, refreshments and Art Exhibition in the church hall, a village History Exhibition and East Meon Childrens Art Competition displays in the Court Hall. Guided walks of East Meon will also be available each day (timings to be confirmed).

Friday, 22nd June – An organ recital in the church by Richard Martin and an evening concert by musicians from the Hampshire Youth Orchestra also in the church (with supper in the Court Hall)

Saturday, 23rd June – Story telling by Sarah Perceval in the church during the day, and a theatrical production by the Rain or Shine Company in the Court House garden in the evening. (This is the same company that is presenting a Christmas Show in East Meon Village Hall on December 15th).

Sunday 24th June – The Bishop of Portsmouth will attend the Morning Church Service and there will be a choral evensong with the Cathedral choristers.

Monday 25th June – Poetry reading in the church. The Festival will close at 3pm on this final day when there will be a distribution of flowers.

Ticket prices and timings for the above events will be announced early in the New Year, by which time we also hope to have a web site up and running.

Volunteers to help at the event and in the run-up period are still being sought – please contact Jane Brown (tel: 823416 or Susan Davenport (tel: 823203) if you would like to be involved ..

All proceeds from the Flower Festival will go to the Church Roof Fund, so support from sponsors will be essential in order to ensure the continued maintenance of our magnificent historic church. All sponsors will be invited to a special preview evening. If you are interested in being a sponsor please contact Sue Barrett (tel: 823179)

Gilli Williams

For source materials on the Flower Festivals, in the online archive, click here.