At precisely 10am on Saturday, September, 13, the bells of the church of St Andrew’s Sedbergh will peal, signalling the beginning of a weekend celebration.
This to markSheepfest, seen as being one of the most ambitious and imaginative community project South Lakeland has seen for some time.
On the boundary of Cumbria and Yorkshire and far from the tourist attractions of the Lake District, Sedbergh and Farfield Mill have long been considered Cumbria’s best-kept secret.
Now. more than 1,000 people have been helped by Artsense Community Arts Kendal to weave, to make sheep and develop their innate creativity.
When the bells cease and the church doors open at 10.30am, Sedbergh’s Junior Brass Band will take over, entertaining those who manage to get a seat as they wait for the unveiling of a Technicolour Dreamcoat.
Woven by almost 700 children, each of their squares contains a dream, hidden and never to be revealed. Clare Hensman, Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria, will cut the cord to reveal the coat.
Meanwhile, more than 100 life-size sheepwill be on sight. Scattered throughout the town and Farfield Mill (which once made horse blankets for Queen Victoria,) they have been made by businesses, voluntary organisations, schools, individuals and families.
Beautiful, funny, rude, poignant - and very worried if you include the one passing the butcher’s wearing a headscarf, dark glasses and a book of vegetarian recipes – they are a remarkable achievement.
For the last few months people of all age groups and backgrounds have struggled with important decisions. Should theirs be playing a harp or a crumhorn? Is a ewe with large bosoms, rollers, in bed under a golf umbrella in case it rains really the best advert for their B&B?
But Sheepfest is not just about admiring the creativity of others. There will be the chance to weave your own square and dream; make your poppy to add to those surrounding the three lambs in the churchyard; learn how to spin, knit, crochet; visit an exhibition and talk by acclaimed felt artist Andrea Hunter and one of photographs of old Sedbergh.
You culd also join a singing workshop; enjoy some wonderful poetry and a play based on the life of Will Stainton who worked at Farfield Mill from eight years old to 88 - or take a guided walk with Sedbergh’s ‘barefoot shepherdess’ Alison O’Neill, last seen herding sheep down Highgate!
There will also be children’s activities; retail therapy from the craft stands in the People’s Hall including The Threshing Barn; live sheep; book signings; street theatre and music.
All events and activities are free and take place equally between the town and Farfield Mill. A free shuttle will connect the two.
For full details of the programme visit www. farfieldmill.org. To reserve workshop places and seats at events phone Farfield Mill on 015396 21958.