For the last few years I have been Secretary of the annual Gunnislake Festival but at the AGM last November I decided to stand down as it was just getting too much when added to my other interests. Our Chairman and Treasurer both decided to resign from the committee at the same time - no animosity, just that we had all had a long stint at these jobs (all three of us are getting on a bit age wise!) and it was time for an injection of new blood. A couple of particularly stalwart members of the committee were prepared to continue and the presence of these two ladies I'm sure would have aided a fairly seamless transition in preparing for the 2009 Festival. And I honoured my promise of being available at the end of the phone should the new secretary want advice which understandably she did on one or two occasions.
This year's Festival, from Wednesday to Saturday last week, followed a well tried formula in the main. So we had the usual display from local artists in the Church Hall and Mandy's ever popular Local History Exhibition in the Public Hall. There are always lovely refreshments at the latter by the way and this year they bought in sponges from a cake maker in Tavistock. I treated myself to a slice and on a scale of 1 to 10 I would give it 11! It was amazing! As is usual with the local history I found myself going back there because there was so much to see. On the Wednesday evening there is normally a talk worth going to and this year we had Bernard doing his slide show on the railway between Tavistock and Kelly Bray via Bere Alston and of course Gunnislake. I've heard it two or three times before admittedly but never tire of it.
The car park in the centre of the village was closed to vehicles on the Saturday because it is given over to public entertainment throughout the afternoon. On this occasion the forecasters were spot on - after a wet morning the clouds parted at lunchtime. We tend to be lucky with the weather for this outdoor part of the Festival, although it has been known to be a little damp on occasion I can't recollect a time when it has been a total washout. There were the usual mix of stalls and live music and although some of the latter wasn't to my taste the amplification didn't seem to be quite so excessive as sometimes. An innovation this year was a chap demonstrating falconry with a Harris hawk which the crowd found interesting. At the end of my involvement with the Festival we had stopped the scarecrow competition; in the first few years we had gained an enviable reputation with this aspect of our Festival but it seemed to me and some others that it had run its course but to my surprise the scarecrows were back this year albeit with a small entry. I think it was a mistake to do that and of course July's wet weather hardly encouraged the making of scarecrows.
All in all I think that the committee has reason to congratulate itself. I'm certainly pleased that the Festival has continued and hope to go to the next AGM to see how things have panned out, from the financial point of view especially. But I'm quite definitely not rejoining the committee!