Being an 18 year old who has just returned from a bustling life at university in which I would visit nightclubs and trendy bars on a weekly basis with large groups of my peers, I am sure you can imagine my enthusiasm at the prospect of having something, anything to do in my tiny home village of Ash at the end of last month. Although humbly beautiful, Ash does indeed lack in hang out spots for anyone under the age of 50 and so Ash Fete tends to be the only thing that it can offer which may slightly appeal to my demographic.
Oh how wrong I was. Upon stepping out of the car into the rainy field that I am all too familiar with, I felt somewhat embarrassed when greeted with the 3 cake stands, a charity stall and a single singer with pretty much nothing else. I can safely say that I had more fun at my University on any other day of the year than the day of Ash Fete. I remember it feeling much bigger as a child, with a large orchestra accompanying the now lonely singer, at least triple the amount of stalls and the May Queen parade, all of which had now vanished. What on Earth happened?
Well for starters, the neighbouring church (Ash Church) which has sat opposite the field in which the fete takes place for the best part of 1000 years had refused to take any part in the event in which it used to help fund. Instead, it decided to hold its own event which just so happened to take place on the very same day! Imagine, clashing events in the tiny village of Ash in which absolutely nothing happens all year round. So yes, the church decided to spend its extra funding that it received this year on its own flower show or something rather than the event which has been cherished by the community for generations.
So this year there was no sign of the friendly Vicar walking around who would usually integrate with the local community and make people feel welcome. The lack of funding from the church would most likely explain the lack of an orchestra and more stalls also. The general spirit of the fete which I had felt in previous years seemed to be missing which I felt was epitomised in the absolute non-existent response from the ‘crowd’ when the tug of war was announced, a tradition of Ash Fete in which the boys would compete against the girls and almost always triumph. With the sad, limp rope lying untouched on the ground for a following two hours, my family who made up around a third of the attendants of the event decided to humour them and due to the slight
majority of females in the Collard family, we won!
Credit given where credit is due, I do enjoy archery and so the stall tucked away behind the remaining embarrassment was the only thing that prevented me from leaving earlier. That and the tiny beer table in which the guy poured three pints which were 90% foam for every one he managed to do right. The main cake tent I guess was alright but also not up to the standards of the years before, again due to lack of funding by the church and was left to the responsibility of the scouts, a group of youths who have no idea how to bake. Still, I bought a slice of banana bread out of politeness. This is why I went to any and every stall at the event really; out of kindness and embarrassment.
I was saddened by the lack of community spirit I must say. The rope was there to be tugged but no one came. The fete was there to be enjoyed but no one came. The fate of the fete is generally not looking great.