This is the 11th year that the Forest Gate Festival has been running and it's just as popular as ever - as the number of stall holders and turnout of visitors proved.
I've always loved this particular Festival and though I'm not a resident of Forest Gate (I'm only a couple of towns away) this is one festival I like to attend regularly as a stall holder.
My stall selling a range of handcrafted items
altered CD's, decorative tin cans, mosaics
The Festival is held on Osborne Road, a really lovely tree lined street with Victorian terrace houses, many with their original wrought iron and glass fronted porches and sash windows. The road is blocked to traffic for the whole day and we stall holders set up our tables on the pavement outside designated houses.
Forest Gate Festival
I've learnt from previous years to always come prepared for rain or shine, so many of us had gazebos or awnings over our tables in the event of rain, or as in today's case, the scorching heat of the sun. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the temperature was in the 30's. Perfect Festival weather with plenty of food and drinks available (by drinks I mean ice cold and totally alcohol free of course!)
handbound notebooks & journals
handbound albums and greeting cards
On my table I was selling a whole range of my handcrafted items such as mosaics, hand bound books, decorative tin cans, altered CD's, ceramic brooches, stampboard brooches and greeting cards. The only thing on my stall not handmade by myself were the Indian embroidered and beaded handbags.
As in the past couple of years this year's Festival was a plastic bag free zone and the organizers were handing out bundles of free hessian bags to all the stall holders to give out to their customers - such a good idea!
a variety of mosaics
Indian embroidered & beaded handbags
I love the atmosphere of this Festival - there's a real sense of community spirit and not only can you feel it but you can see it - in the smiles, helpfulness, generosity and friendliness of the stall holders and visitors alike :-)
Forest Gate Festival just starting
There were plenty of activities happening for everyone - face painting and tower climbing for children, henna painting, make and take tables, music, workshops and street entertainers. Though my only criticism was there wasn't such a variety of street entertainers this year as there has been in the past. That said, the entertainment that was there was brilliant.
The stilt walkers were so funny - especially the Tea Lady who'd come down the street pushing her musical tea trolley. She'd be chatting to you one minute and then would break out into a a little song and dance the next and would get you to join in - she was amazing :-)
"how about a nice cuppa tea?" asked the stilt walking Tea Lady
oooh aargh me hearties! stilt walking pirates in their boat
There were also a group of ladies performing some belly dancing and hoop dancing.
One of the most entertaining acts was a group of African men who performed the most amazing and energetic acrobatic routine. They had such balance and skill in their act. One of them was a contortionist and could roll himself up into a ball and the others would pick him up and put him into an ordinary metal bowl.
Amazing African Acrobats
They would stand on each others head and then leap about doing somersaults and back flips and would juggle hats onto their heads and juggle bats. Their act would include audience participation, which would make it even funnier and they would combine it with a comedy routine - all this with no speaking! The audience were just spellbound and gasping at some of their breathtaking stunts - truly incredible!
and for my next trick.....
The Festival started at 11am and continued till 6pm, when everything was over for another year. Stall holders began to pack up, customers scoured round for last minute bargains, and Osborne Road slowly transformed itself back into a residential road again after all the excitement and fun of the Forest Gate Festival.
I'm so looking forward to next year! :-)