TWO of Shaftesbury's favourite events are coming together to provide a unique showcase of local food, music and art for residents and visitors to the picturesque Saxon hilltop town.
The well-established Shaftesbury Feastival has joined forces with the more recent Shaftesbury Arts & Music Festival, and together they have become the Shaftesbury Festival.
The 2013 event will be Shaftesbury's first full food and arts festival and will become a three-day event running from Friday 31st May to Sunday 2nd June.
New chairman Clive Burgess said: "The new team and I are thrilled to have been able to bring these two festivals together, building on the success of the original food event started by Tamara Essex back in 2005 and working with arts festival director Richard Thomas.
"Jilly Sitch will continue as co-organiser and secretary for the event and is confident that this new format will prove hugely successful and create a very important date in the town and district's calendar. We are delighted that BV Dairy, Stagecoach Theatre Arts School and Blackmore Vale Magazine have each expressed their whole-hearted support for our decision to combine the festivals and that each has confirmed their continued sponsorship."
The festivities start on Friday night with a performance from the acclaimed blues band The Producers at Shaftesbury Arts Centre.
On Saturday, Dorset Farmers Market and many other independent producers will bring the best of the region's food and drink to take centre stage on Park Walk, providing plenty of opportunities to taste, try and buy at what is undoubtedly one of the country's most scenically located food markets. In addition visitors can take tea with a view at the popular Schools Café in Park Walk Garden.
As a first for the festival there will be a cookery demonstration unit on Park Walk where visitors will be able to enjoy demos by local chefs and the winner of the local schools' Junior Masterchef competition, which will be run prior to the main event.
There will be a repeat of the incredibly successful Gold Hill Run, which saw teams and individuals carrying a truckle of cheese up Shaftesbury's iconic landmark,. The emphasis this year is on opening the race up to appeal to local organisations and children.
With the colourful and quirky art and craft stalls of the Anonymous Travelling Market, circus skills workshops, face painting, a petting farm, performances from Stagecoach Theatre Arts School and other local musicians and dancers plus an evening ceilidh at the Town Hall, the day promises plenty of entertainment for the whole family during the half term holidays. Shaftesbury's arts scene will also be on show in Swan's Yard and the many galleries around town.
On Sunday the music and food continues with jazz brunches at some of the town's eateries and ends with a concert at St Peter's Church featuring Shaftesbury's Community Choir and young opera singer Charlotte Hewett, who will be joined by some other talented musicians and singers. Few will forget Charlotte's magical performance from the balcony of the Grosvenor Hotel, which was widely acknowledged as one of the highlights of last year's arts and music festival.
"The programme has really begun to take shape," says Jilly Sitch. "But we have much more in the pipeline. So keep an eye on the festival website www.shaftesburyfestival.co.uk for all the latest news or follow us on Twitter @shaftesburyfest."
There will also be regular news and updates on the festival in the BVM.
For enquiries about any aspect of the festival including stall applications, performances, sponsorship and media please contact Festival Secretary Jilly Sitch on 0787 761 8031 or email email@example.com