Families enjoy what could be final Mile Cross Festival

The final Mile Cross Festival at Sloughbottom Park.
Byline: Sonya Duncan

Young dancers at the 37th Mile Cross Festival on Sloughbottom Park in September 2021 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A rallying call has been made for volunteers to take on the running of a free community festival which has attracted generations of families over several decades.

The Mile Cross Festival was started around 37 years ago but many fear Saturday's event on Sloughbottom Park, off Valpy Avenue, was its last.

The final Mile Cross Festival at Sloughbottom Park.
Byline: Sonya Duncan

Community performers at the 37th Mile Cross Festival on Sloughbottom Park in September 2021 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

This is because there are not enough people to organise it after committee members step down this year due to outside commitments.

But in a last-ditch attempt to keep the annual tradition alive, the Mile Cross Festival committee is holding an emergency general meeting (EGM) at the Phoenix Centre on Mile Cross Road on September 20, from 7pm, to decide if there are not enough volunteers and funding for it to continue.

Chairwoman of Mile Cross Festival committee, Saffron King with committee members, Caroline Jarrold and Lord Mayor of Norwich

Chairwoman of Mile Cross Festival committee, Saffron King (fifth from the left) with other committee members and Caroline Jarrold, Sheriff of Norwich (fourth from left) and Lord Mayor of Norwich Dr Kevin Maguire (second from right) at the 2021 event on Sloughbottom Park, Norwich - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

It is open to the public and chairwoman, Saffron King, 48, who is one of the people stepping down, said: "This is the end for me, the secretary and treasurer, however this isn't necessarily the end of the festival. The meeting is to see if people can step up."


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Mrs King, was stopping her involvement because she could not put in the time due to her work, but praised the festival on how it brought people together and showcased local organisations.

The final Mile Cross Festival at Sloughbottom Park.Byline: Sonya Duncan

Families and friends watching live performances at the 2021 Mile Cross Festival on Sloughbottom Park, Norwich - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"It is about solidarity. It is a great thing to have for the community. It is important people attend the meeting and hopefully other people can take it on. There are people with different skills on Mile Cross," she added.

The final Mile Cross Festival at Sloughbottom Park.
Byline: Sonya Duncan

Youngsters at the 37th Mile Cross Festival on Sloughbottom Park in September 2021 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

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The chairwoman was impressed at the turn out of Saturday's festival, which included live dance performances.

She added everyone who visited the festival was smiling and happy.

The final Mile Cross Festival at Sloughbottom Park.Cassius Campling Byline: Sonya Duncan

Cassius Campling at the 2021 Mile Cross Festival in Norwich - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Sheriff of Norwich, Caroline Jarrold, who was on a walkabout of the festival with Lord Mayor of Norwich, Dr Kevin Maguire, said: "There is a sense of dedication here."

Jo Parker Sessions with her husband Shaun and their five-year-old son Toby at the 2021 Mile Cross Festival

Jo Parker Sessions with her husband Shaun and their five-year-old son Toby at the 2021 Mile Cross Festival - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

HR worker Jo Parker Sessions, 42, from Soleme Road, who was visiting with her five-year-old son and husband, said: "Mile Cross has a strong community feel but it needs something like this to bring people together. People need people. We didn't realise quite so much of what was going on in the area."

John Knapp, from Bowers Avenue, at Norwich's 2021 Mile Cross Estate

John Knapp, from Bowers Avenue, at Norwich's 2021 Mile Cross Estate - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

John Knapp, 37, from Bowers Avenue, who was at the event with his four-year-old daughter, said: "If it was the last festival it would be a shame."

Festival history

An archive picture from a previous Mile Cross Festival

An archive picture from a previous Mile Cross Festival - Credit: Mile Cross Festival

The idea of Mile Cross Festival was formed in 1979/80 and originally held on Peterson Park, near the Norman Centre.

It was created to bring the community and local organisations together.

In its infancy it featured a few stalls but at its peak the festival showcased 78 in 1998, including vehicle displays.

The festival moved to Sloughbottom Park in 2010.

The final Mile Cross Festival at Sloughbottom Park.Gus Wallace-Goodall with the Star Wars crewByli

Gus Wallace-Goodall with the Norwich Star Wars Club members at the 2021 Mile Cross Festival on Sloughbottom Park - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Attractions this year included the Norwich Star Wars Club, children's activities, inflatable fun, a fire eating display, Zumba show, and dance performance from Allstars Dance Academy from Belvoir Street.

Mile Cross Festival committee member Christine Lester

Mile Cross Festival committee member Christine Lester - Credit: Sophie Wyllie

Christine Lester, 72, a committee member and former secretary, said: "It is good fun. If we didn't have it the whole area would be poorer for it."  


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