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Chesterton Festival returns to its rightful place in the community - in the sunshine





The one-day Chesterton Festival made a triumphant return at Pye Recreation Ground after a one-year gap, drawing more than 2,000 visitors and featuring incredible variety among the 45 stalls.

The community event, run by local volunteers, took place over four hours in bright sunshine, and offered something for everyone.

Baque Trovao UK, a maracatu Afro-Brazilian percussion group, at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Baque Trovao UK, a maracatu Afro-Brazilian percussion group, at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

The stalls included garden centres, food and drink, religious and housing organisations, scouts, bric-a-brac, local artists and fitness coaches. There were several table tennis tables, play areas and a stage area for performers, including local bands such as The Miranda Band and Zephyrus, plus a magician, belly-dancers, and a choir.

The variety of the stands was remarkable, and included Cambridge African Network, Lebanese Street Food, Camcycle, Cambridge Cyrenians, Rowan, Playlanders, Blue Smile, Athena, Cambridge Child & Family Centre, 100 Houses Society, Cambridge Art Salon, Friends of St Andrews (the church nearby) and East Chesterton Women's Institute (WI). Free community heritage walks were provided by the Museum of Technology, a 10-minute walk away on the other side of the river.

Magician at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Magician at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

“There was no festival last year,” said Jane on the East Chesterton WI stand. “There wasn’t enough funding. But this year it has been fully-funded by Cambridge City Council and that’s fantastic for the community.”

“It’s gone very well today,” said Jenny, the chair of the WI group which meets once a month at Chesterton Methodist Church.

Cambridge African Network stall, Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Cambridge African Network stall, Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

“The weather has been lovely - two years ago it was raining. This is a very friendly festival, very well organised, and it’s good for local people because Chesterton is one of the most deprived areas of the city, so it’s really good to have lots of local people and children - just look at all the children playing table tennis! And it’s free…”

The event started at midday and pretty soon the bands started getting into their swing.

The Miranda Band at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
The Miranda Band at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

The Miranda Band, a quartet of musicians aged around 16, played a fun version of ‘Surfin’ USA’ among others and Zephyrus bashed out Oasis’ ‘Supersonic’ and Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ to great effect.

Around 1.30 the Baque Trovão UK troupe played their astonishingly loud maracatu set, featuring drummers, dancers and singers, which involved a tour of the whole festival site - more about this group in next week’s print edition of the Cambridge Independent, on sale 3 July.

Camcyle's CEO Roxanne De Beaux at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Camcyle's CEO Roxanne De Beaux at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

Local artists included watercolours and cards by Denise Russell, jewellery by Alana on the Moon, and potter Jane Whitten.

Jane’s work has developed hugely in the last few years, and I bought four pieces from her stall before recognising her, having last seen her in 2017, shortly after she had suffered the death of her husband, Tony Whitten, who I had interviewed for the Cambridge Independent just a few weeks before he was killed in a car incident when he was riding his bike along Newmarket Road.

Table tennis at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Table tennis at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

A remarkable person, Jane mentioned of her family - she had three children with Dr Whitten, a conservationist who was immortalised by having had a succession of species named after him - that “we had our day in court”.

She will shortly be moving to a market town in Oxfordshire and we wish her well.

Belly-dancers at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Belly-dancers at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

“We don’t count the exact number of people who attend Chesterton Festival,” said one of the organisers, “but we estimate there were at least 2,000 people here today, and there were no incidents, everyone had a really good time.”

Baque Trovao UK, a maracatu Afro-Brazilian percussion group, at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom
Baque Trovao UK, a maracatu Afro-Brazilian percussion group, at Chesterton Festival, 29 June, 2024. Picture: Mike Scialom

The event finished with community teams taking part in a tug-of-war.

“We are very grateful to the 100 Houses Society for Sponsoring the Children’s Fun Zone which was free,” said a spokesperson for the 2024 Chesterton Festival Steering Committee.



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