“What century are you living in?” – a blog observer jested recently.
To be sure, there are times when I am uncertain myself, and find myself pondering, rather delightfully and blissfully, this self-same question. Perhaps, the best and most accurate answer is: “A kinder and gentler one than the present.”
In so many ways, my life in Barford does seem to be caught within a time warp. My experiences here are light years from the life I led not so long ago in New York City. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
“Visit the sunny village of Barford where you can experience a little taste of the country.”
So read the advertisement for the Barford Village Show. And the advert did not lie! The Village Show is a massive undertaking that occurs here on the August Bank Holiday weekend, but only happens every four years - such is the magnitude of its scale and scope.
This year was our first experience of the Village Show. And, the DEB and I were both staggered and amazed by the level of commitment, drive, energy, enthusiasm and creativity displayed and required by everyone involved.
The village truly came together and pulled off quite a remarkable show. “This is just one of those things that we do very, very well.” So said my fellow WI-er, June. And, by golly she was right!
Visitors to our tiny corner of Warwickshire were treated to an array of funny scarecrows; home-made cakes and pies; skits and sketches; performances on the village green; strolling musicians; characters in costume; allotment tours; competitions for Best Vegetables, Flowers & Painted Stones; “Guess the weight of the Piglet” contest; a series of indoor and outdoor entertainments; pony rides; Hog Roasts; BBQs; art exhibits; antique stalls; local produce sales; and two historical exhibitions of wedding dresses and drama group costumes. There were also special church services, and prize-winning, guest bell-ringers from across the County ringing the church bells over the course of two full days.
The DEB and I contributed – exhausted though we were, having just returned the day before, from our two-week holiday – to the Village Show efforts of the Drama Group, Church and WI.
On Sunday, I served on the altar at the 8:00 am service – in my new alb, which FINALLY arrived!! This meant being up, awake, alert and at the church by half 7. (Oy vey.) Thank goodness, it’s just across the road.
In the afternoon, we both performed at a matinee of “Songs and Verses” the proceeds of which (over £200, I think) went to the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance. The DEB sang and played two numbers on his guitar (he has such a beautiful voice *SIGH*).
I panicked for 24 hours, and fretted about what to do and in the end, realised it’s always best to stick with what you know. So – I donned one of the Drama Group’s Elizabethan costumes (with a gorgeous hat, of course!) and performed a selection of Shakespeare sonnets. After that, a stroll about the Village as a “costumed character.”
The highlight of the Village Show for me was the “Wedding Dress” exhibition sponsored by Barford WI. I mean, who doesn’t love wedding dresses? But, more importantly, our display of wedding dresses also provided a very unique illustration of social and cultural history in the live of the Village.
It was also just really fascinating to see how each dress expressed the style, persona and personality of the owner. Sue Tompkins’ early 1990s ensemble – complete with a cotton dress in dark green floral pattern ; and a pair of large, black, leather Dr. Martens boots – was the real show stopper of the exhibition!
This was one of those truly lovely WI moments, as we all gathered on Saturday, armed with our boxes, treasures, pictures and memories. Talk of how times and styles have changed – or not. And how society has changed.
For example, I recall one woman musing as she regarded another’s elaborate gown: “How lovely. Yes, I couldn’t wear a dress like that, ours was a second marriage in the 1970s.” Times have changed for the better, in some ways at least. And of course, it was just nice to be able to give the dress a second outing!
The organiser of the “Scarecrows” had asked us if we might participate in that event, but we decided that we rather wait, and see what it was all about first. I’m glad we did.
The Scarecrow displays were very serious business! The art and skill that went into them was incredible. There was one scarecrow modeled on our wonderful, wonderful postman, Steve.
The “Postie Steve” scarecrow was amazing! It had been masterfully painted, and looked just like him. When you walked passed the scarecrow, the motion was detected, and activated a sound system that began to play that old hit: “Wait a minute, Mr. Postman.”
My one disappointment from the Village Show experience was that I did not have my act together enough to submit an arrangement to the Floral Competitions. For some reason, when I had previously read through the Village Show materials I had failed to spot the “Best in Show” for Flowers.
I knew lots of people who were submitting veggies to the competition, but didn’t notice anything about flowers! Which is a shame, really, as my white, antique rose has done so well this year. I have no doubt I would have garnered a place!
Oh, well, there’s always 2014…
I think the greatest thing about the Village Show was, and is, well, the village itself and the people in it. People really came together, went all out and gave ceaselessly of their time, talents and resources to make the Village Show a success. That comes down to pride, I think, and a real love of this timeless place we call home.