THERE was hail on the Saturday, frost on the cars early on Sunday, then continuous rain for the rest of the final day – but Whaley Water Weekend 2011 was still being called “the best ever.”
It was a lovely evening for the opening Friday Acoustic Fest and mostly dry on Saturday when hundreds of people took the free canal boat trips. It was clear and dry for Saturday Night Live – another fest with local rock bands.
Boat passenger numbers over the weekend are the best measurement of W3 attendance – this year 1,098 people took weekend trips along the ‘Green Tunnel’ of the canal, only a handful short of last year’s record which had two heatwave days. Total attendance this year is estimated at 1,800 to 2,000.
Chairman Barry Rudd said: “The event has been an outstanding success. Rain on Sunday didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd or the organisers. I’m proud of all our team – they worked very hard.”
Three attractions introduced this year were all successful:
- the Acoustic Fest, organised by ex-Magna Carta star Linda Simpson, attracted more than 200 picnickers and fans
- the Saturday rock night, including local bands Aimless and Nightyear, had similar support
- the BMX demonstration by local 12-16 year olds, part of the main Saturday event, gave the riders an opportunity to demonstrate their skills
Oompah music – Whaley Bridge Brass Band disguised in shorts, boots and funny German accents – was another introduction. With knees bared on a slightly chilly Saturday, they kept the crowd happy for nearly an hour. The band returned, in more dignified uniforms, on Sunday for a session to chase away the rain blues.
In among it all – in rare sunshine – the Whaley-based Powderkegs performed their border morris dancing. The group celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Town council chairman Jon Goldfinch chatted with members, wishing them well and even getting to handle a stave used in one of the dances.
Electricity was made on Saturday. How? A demonstration using a cycle machine to produce electricity was put on in a yurt (tent) by High Peak Community Arts. And a demonstration of vintage factory or farm machines by Eric Hollinrake included one producing enough power to light several bulbs.
Peak Paddlers gave youngsters a chance to try canoeing. On land, the Toddrook Sailing Club brought along a dinghy to attract dozens of people to their information table.
Burgers – we call them Whaleyburgers because they are locally sourced through Wilds the butchers – caught the imagination of the crowd on both days. They liked the idea of the organisers selling fast food, and ploughing back any profits into next year’s event. Sales were between 600 and 700. At one stage, Town Council chairman Jon Goldfinch helped with the cooking, instantly dubbed the ‘burgermeister’.
The early morning air frost on Sunday had disappeared before most people were awake. A bright start to the day didn’t last, and the rain came, drizzly at first then heavy.
But brave souls still queued for free boat tickets, and bought things from the stalls. And there were two musical treats in the morning. First on, High Peak Jazz Orchestra, a large ensemble of youngsters. Then Whaley Bridge Band, back in uniform after the short trousers for oompah day on Saturday, cheered up damp spectators. They were followed by Acoustic Collective and Whaley Bridge Choir.
A visitors’ book was popular, with entries from as far away as Bedfordshire, Cheltenham, Barnsley and Rotherham, with more from the region such as Stockport, Glossop and Macclesfield.
High Peak mayor David Lomax, who lives in Whaley Bridge, wrote: “Well done – great day.” Other messages said: “Fab for community … Great … Wonderful ,,.
Lovely afternoon … So cool … Excellent – best one yet.”
Most original W3 promotion of the weekend came from steward Simon Booth. He recreated the W3 logo with Buxton Water bottles, some of hundreds gifted by Nestle.
Most original contribution to W3 was the Mad Hatter’s Party at cottages across the way from the site. Tea and cakes attracted nearly 200 people, served by sexy waitresses and crazy hatted waiters. It produced a hefty turnover, presented to W3.
OUR SPECIAL THANKS The Water Weekend was founded through an initiative by Whaley Bridge Town Council in 2000. We wish to thank the Town Council for their financial and other support, and a commitment to the future. Thanks, also, to British Waterways for permission to use the canal basin. Special thanks go to our main sponsor for a fifth year, Autotech Service Centre; also to our primary sponsors the Jodrell Arms, Chronicle Accountants, Peartree Print and The Review
Our thanks go to the many advertisers, to our supporters and volunteers, especially the crews of our three boats, and the committee. Without these layers of support, there would be no event. To everybody who helped or visited the event, thanks for your support. We look forward to 2012 (which is also the Queen’s Diamond Anniversary and the London Olympics .) Can’t wait.
Barry Rudd, secretary, is on 01663 733003 or 07836 258 883, email email@example.com Treasurer Eveline Hughes is on 01663 733597 or 07916 257 292.