Worstead Festival is cancelled

Ed FossThis year's three-day Worstead Festival has been cancelled after 45 years.Ed Foss

This year's three-day Worstead Festival has been cancelled after 45 years.

The news is expected to anger stallholders who have already set aside the long weekend to attend what has been described as Norfolk's largest village festival, attracting around 30,000 people a year.

A smaller music festival will be held in the village instead.

The cancellation could leave the village, near North Walsham, and surrounding parishes, out of pocket because one of the festival's main aims was to collect and distribute charity cash.

Festival bosses said the event needed a "rethink" to make it "easier to manage and more entertaining to the public". They said they would present a "rejuvenated" festival in 2011.

"Worstead is still going to entertain the public, but in a slightly different way in the future," read a statement from the charity trustees.

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The decision follows a string of meetings in recent days and a final set of meetings on Monday evening. The festival was due to celebrate its 45th outing from July 23 to 25.

However there will be a smaller music-based event held over the festival weekend, reflecting the usual annual music offering and based in the gardens of the village pub, the New Inn.

The traditional Friday evening five-mile running race, which has become the festival opener for hundreds of runners and spectators, will also go ahead.

Terry Quigley, who organises the race for his club the North Norfolk Beach Runners, said the popular run would still happen.

'It usually attracts more than 400 people and it is a very sociable event as well as being on the Norfolk calendar of club runs.

'We may have to make a few slight changes to the organisation because of the festival cancellation but it will go ahead.'

The smaller music event will be put together by a group of festival committee members and will feature music on Friday evening and through the day on Saturday and Sunday.

Organiser Toby Rose said there were also plans to have a jazz, tea and cakes event in the village hall on Saturday and Sunday as well as some sort of entertainment in St Mary's Church. Areas for car parking have already been set aside.

The festival has developed over the years from a small open gardens session in the 1960s to help raise money to save the church tower, to a bustling event which featured livestock, stalls, a children's fairground, daytime and evening music, heavy horses, main ring entertainment, tractor rides, vintage tractors, vintage cars and catering.

Along the way expansion was boosted by huge numbers of volunteers, some years saw very successful charity auctions and the festival was even given a tea set by the Queen Mother.

The festival has helped pay for the village hall and the playing field, as well as handing out regular grants to local causes.

In the 2007/8 financial year, grants to the value of �12,695 were handed out to local groups.