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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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Spring festival for north Cumbria

A spring festival of music, dance, drama, food and heritage is set to draw thousands of visitors to Brampton over the May bank holiday weekend.

Stepping Stones festival photo
Maddy Prior at the festival

Singer/songwriter Maddy Prior – a folk music icon since forming Steeleye Span in 1969 – is organising a second Stepping Stones festival to bring a carnival atmosphere to her home town.

And the three-day festival, on May 3, 4 and 5, will premier her performance of her musical story of Marcus Agrippa, a Roman commander on Hadrian’s Wall. Maddy, who lives at Bewcastle, will be joined by a top line-up of professional musicians.

Local businesses, already excited about the festival’s potential for attracting tourists and trade from all over the country, are sponsoring the event. The northern Co-operative Society has given £3,000.

Brampton parish council is backing it.

Negotiations have started with the county council over traffic management issues in Front Street over the holiday weekend.

“These can be delicate and sometimes difficult,” said festival organiser Tim Coombe. “It would be necessary for a bus route to be diverted around the town, for instance, and for the Market Place to be closed to traffic for a while.

“But we’re hopeful all can be resolved in time for this celebration of local life, music and heritage.

“Since we lost Brampton Live and the town’s carnival there have been very few community events on this scale. Surely there has to be more than a Jubilee once every 60 years for people to have the opportunity to enjoy themselves.”

The festival will start with a ceilidh and dancing will continue throughout the weekend with clog and circle dancing and a variety of dance and performing arts workshops.

There will be street theatre, buskers, live music in pubs and cafes, a farmers’ market, craft demonstrations, painting competitions, a fun fair and open mic sessions to find eight performers to join Maddy Prior on stage for a grand finale performance.

“After Stepping Stones Maddy will later take her Agrippa performances on tour, initially to destinations along Hadrian’s Wall,” said Tim. “The Hadrian’s Wall Trust is collaborating with us on this festival. It’s a marvellous opportunity to promote and show off what our lovely part of north Cumbria has to offer.

“This second Stepping Stones festival was Maddy’s idea. She wanted to build on the success of last year’s inaugural event and involve so many more people, arts, crafts, activities and venues to celebrate life and music on her own home patch.”

Details of the main artists involved, events planned, tickets and accommodation suggestions are at www. steppingstonesfestival.co.uk.

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