Nearly 10,000 visitors enjoyed the delights of The English Festival on Saturday (21 April) at Riverside Country Park, Gillingham, and even the weather was typically unpredictable, bringing sunshine for most of the afternoon.
Held annually on the closest Saturday to St George’s Day, the free family event celebrates all things quintessentially English, with themed zones including the seaside, a village green, a farm animal enclosure and a medieval arena.
MP for Gillingham and Rainham Rehman Chishti officially opened this year’s festival from the village bandstand, and The Mayor of Medway, Cllr Ted Baker was also in attendance to introduce “The Queen”, who then delivered her speech – a respectful spoof to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee year.
Alongside deckchairs and donkey rides there was a specially created sandy beach, a miniature London bus took little ones on tours of the park, and a fiery but friendly dragon thrilled the crowds in honour of St George’s Day.
Colourful costumed characters from English history roamed the park to mingle with visitors, including Sir Winston Churchill, Emily Pankhurst and Victorian bathers, while local traders provided traditional fish and chips, pasties, ice creams and plenty of tea.
Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services Cllr Howard Doe said: “It was wonderful to see so many people visiting the festival again this year – despite the forecast for rain the weather was perfect and it was obvious that everyone was enjoying this fun and quirky day enormously. I’d like to thank all involved for making it such a superb free event”.
Top photo: Simon Kelsey.