Salisbury Festival Family Fun Day at Danebury Hill Fort

27 May

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We rocked up to Hampshire’s Danebury Hill Fort, just across the county border, with the lure of an AfroReggae Family Fun Day.

Fun. For kids. An ancient hill fort. Summer sunshine music. Sounded great.

Alongside us two adult chroniclers and mini-Milo chronicler (age five), Milo’s seven year old friend was along for the ride.

We were there about an hour after it started but there wasn’t a huge amount of musical fun in evidence. An hour later and still no ‘pop-up’ performances (new word for ‘unscheduled’ or ‘when we feel like it’) and Milo and friend had exhausted the games on offer.

We were just contemplating whether to head off to the main festival in Salisbury when we spotted an odd looking structure on the slope leading up to the hill fort.

Close-up it looked like a potato sculpture stuck together with sticks, being assembled by whole families – children, mums, dads. The kids and chronicler Pete decended upon it with glee, screwering potatoes with giant cocktail sticks and adding them to the artwork. Meanwhile I went to investigate.

A helpful steward (everyone was very friendly there; one of my festival essentials) told me the structure was the promenade avenue for the 6pm performance of Samba Spectacular: Hampshire Welcomes the World. She pointed out the artists and I went for a chat.

Gateway, as it was called, was dreamed up by Andover-based artists David Dixon and Tom Mortimer. I didn’t even realise there was artist studios in Andover – Chapel Arts Studio apparently, in – guess what? – an old chapel in the middle of a graveyard. My kind of place. What was the inspiration? I asked Tom. “We like to do simple things that are social.”

It kept Milo so engrossed that he didn’t stop working on it even for a teatime hotdog (which is so much his favourite food that he once had a terrible nightmare where he couldn’t eat his sausage…oh to be five again).

Then it was time for the Samba Spectacular. I bought tickets for Milo and friend, which included boom whackers (plastic coloured tubes tuned to a musical note) to take part in the performance. Starting at the bottom of the hill, the Brazilian performers AfroReggae led school children and ticket purchasers up the slope, through the potato Gateway, dancing, drumming and somersaulting all the way. Hundreds of people snaked up the hill and congregated in the grassy basin of the fort.

Chronicler Pete and I enjoyed watching, listening and banging our boom wackers. But, inevitably I guess (insert resigned sigh of middle class parents), the five and seven year olds had great fun using their coloured tubes as swords.

Ultimately, both kids were worn out and, was it better than staying at home? Yes and no they said. To an adult that means  it was okay but nothing special. But to the kids? ‘I liked it here but I also like it at home.’ So there you go.

Both events were part of the Hampshire Five Rings 2012 celebrations. Which I guess means it’s part of the Olympics or the Cultural Olympiad. The fluttering banners said London 2012 anyway.

See all the photos at Add your own if you were there!

And we’ve finally gotten around to using Instagram. Check out photos as they happen via Twitter @FestChronicler and Facebook.

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