Ben Rhydding Community Fete,  21st June 2014

There was no shortage of bikes last Saturday when La Grande Fete, otherwise known as the Ben Rhydding Community Fete, took place on the former middle school field on Valley Drive.

Perhaps as a foretaste of the cycling frenzy to come, the theme of bikes was everywhere to be seen amongst the wide variety of activities and stalls, as the ninth such Fete provided a fun-filled afternoon for all ages.

The Fete was officially opened by Parish Council Chairman Councillor Andrew Wallbank, along with organiser, Mrs Karen Palframan and Stephanie Milward, Chair of Ilkley Cycling Club. Visitors were then treated to a full two hour line-up of entertainment in the main arena, starting with songs from the Ben Rhydding Community Choir, led by musician and composer Keely Hodgson.

The choir was followed by various dance demonstrations from the Wright Theatre Arts Dance Academy and the Joze School of Dance and by a Parade of Bikes. The latter was part of a competition for the bike best decorated. Entries showed plenty of creativity and the difficult task of judging and selecting first second and third prize-winners was no easy task for Stephanie Milward of Ilkley Cycling Club.

Meanwhile around the arena a wide variety of local clubs, societies, uniformed groups and charities manned their stalls, parading their wares or causes, offering games and selling everything from books to toys and plants, thus raising money as well as their respective profiles in the community. Marie Curie Cancer Care had two bikes set up to work food processors by pedal power, thus allowing cyclists, at £1 a go, to mix their own delicious fruit smoothies. They also raffled off a lovely yellow bike.

For those with other sporting inclinations, there was the chance to try croquet or golf, with the juniors from Ben Rhydding Golf Club offering the “Rory McIroy Bicycle Challenge”.

The tea tent this year was run by the “Pathfinders”, a group of youngsters from St. John’s Church, Ben Rhydding. Offering hot and cold drinks with an array of delectable home-made cakes, the youngsters were aiming to raise money for two special projects: Water Aid and Toilet Twinning. Both of these projects aim to provide clean water and better sanitation in many of the world’s poorest countries.

For refreshments of a different kind, there was a beer tent, sponsored by the Wheatley Arms, a barbecue offering hot dogs and burgers and ice cream.

The afternoon was punctuated musically by sets from local bands, Singe’n’Swing and Dr. Bob and the Bluesmakers, and ended with the ever-popular raffle. Raffle prizes were kindly donated by The Wheatley Arms, Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club, the Cow and Calf Hotel and Melissa Morton Garden Design, as well as by Stephen Furniss, The Green Room, LS29 and Clevedon Beauty.  Organiser Mrs Palframan said “We’re always so grateful to all the wonderful local businesses who support us so generously, particularly to Audley Clevedon, our main sponsor, as there are inevitably lots of costs to cover. We have always kept the fete as a free event, as we want as many people as possible to come and enjoy a community get-together”.

Mrs Palframan concluded  “Saturday’s lovely weather made all the difference,  and rewarded all the volunteers’ hard work. The fete had a really relaxed atmosphere, allowing everything to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. The field looked superb, with a village green type feel, and visitors didn’t want to leave”.

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