Fun line-up pulls in crowds at East Preston

A scarecrow in East Preston
A scarecrow in East Preston

THE village may be under the watchful eye of a couple of dozen scarecrows, but they can’t keep the crowds away from East Preston Festival.

Visitors and villagers have been flocking to many of the events, with the ‘sold out’ signs going up at an Elvis tribute night, a shuffleboard evening and general knowledge quiz, and hundreds enjoying the sunshine at Sunday’s Party on the Green, organised by the Royal British Legion Club.

Not that the scarecrows would actually scare anyone away – they are a creative, welcoming addition to festival week, back in greater numbers for this their second year, with a total of 24 standing sentinel in front gardens, eight more than in 2013.

Mary Allan’s fisherman scarecrow, in Beechlands Close, reeled in the first prize of £25 and Jonathan Mallet’s heavily-strawed figure, resting from his duties in a deckchair in Willowhayne Crescent, took the £10 second prize. Helen Harmsworth and Tim Critchfield were awarded highly commended certificates.

Sadly, there was some vandalism of three of the scarecrows, but one of the makers turned even that into a positive, adding a bandage to the area where the injury was sustained.

Copies of a list showing where to find the scarecrows were snapped up almost immediately and demand was high, too, for tickets for the open garden sessions on Monday afternoon and yesterday evening, with extras having to be printed and queues building up at some of the venues.

It’s all put a smile on the face of festival chairman Ian Gordon. “Everything is going really well,” he said on Tuesday, “and everyone’s having a good time.

“We’ve all worked really hard on the committee, so when it all falls into place, it gives you a real buzz.”

Another highly successful event was the return of the antiques valuation session, this year with Paul Campbell, of auctioneers Campbells of Worthing. He was genuinely pleased to see the 36 people who brought up to three family treasures along with them and the scheduled two hours had to be expanded to almost four to fit everyone in. More than £100 was raised for festival funds.

The prized silverware on Sunday was the trophy for the winners of the tug o’ war during the Party on the Green. It was carried off after much heave-ho by the Seaview Hotel, who out-pulled the Clockhouse in the final. The Tudor Tavern and the Legion Club also took part.

The Baytree Lunch Club’s coffee morning and the Bradbury Hotel’s final summer party before it closes, both on Saturday, were well attended.

After an impressive start to the festival, everyone is now looking forward to the final weekend, with the carnival the big attraction, and other highlights.

For a full listing, plus a picture special, see this week’s paper.