Licences & paperwork

Did I mention that there’s a well-oiled team behind this?

While I’ve been setting up this site, the committee have been busy. We’ve got the alcohol licence, so we can push ahead with the beer tasting tent. This is going to be an interesting offering, as Greg’s son is a keen brewer and beer enthusiast & he plans to give talks about the subject. T is at pains to point out, though, that it’s her name on the licence, and so she would be the one in trouble should we fall foul of the law! I’ve promised her that we’ll police it well.

One thing on my mind at the moment is our exciting idea to have a clay pigeon shoot. This is an awesome new venture for the fete, and one that I’m sure will be extremely popular with attendees – if we can do it. The guy who runs it is very keen, and is currently looking into the licensing required. My main concern, though, is getting it covered by the fete’s insurance – but I’ve heard about it happening at other village fetes, so I know it’s possible to sort out.

Getting an ice-cream van has proven more difficult. Two local ones are already booked for other events. I must ask T if she has a contact – otherwise we’ll do like like year and sell Magnums & lollies from a freezer! It’ll be cheaper & bring in more funds for the fete.

It’s the same story with the barbecue. To get a good one, you need to book at least 6 months in advance. However, Greg’s managed to convince someone to lend one, and to do some cooking. We’ll just need to supply the food. S tells me that hotdogs are extremely profitable, and easy to do, so that’s definitely an option to consider.

Handy Fete Tip: Be organised! Book external people as early as possible, and otherwise they’ll get snapped up by other events.

Advertising the fete

One of the subjects for the next meeting will be how we advertise the fete.

One of our committee members has previously surveyed fete attendees to discover that the majority come from either the village, or neighbouring villages. The fete has previously relied on traditional ways of marketing the fete, using signposts and local newspapers. We’re now wondering whether social media & online promotion can add to this in any worthwhile way.

Drop by our Facebook page or Tweet us with your views. I should probably set up Instagram too!

Picking a venue

I’d prepared a pros and cons list for each of the proposed fete locations which I presented to the committee. By this time, the thought of arranging a road closure was not a particularly attractive proposition due to the closeness of the deadline for submitting the form, and also inconvenience to the residents. Fortunately, the committee agreed. That left the pub and Greg’s Eggs as the only real contenders. Perhaps it was the sloe gin that Greg brought that swayed the final decision, or perhaps the committee was impressed by the enthusiasm and excitement (or should that be egg-citement) of a new location for the fete. Whatever the reasons, the new venue was chosen.

The only problem with the chosen venue is its location. How can we get villagers who don’t drive (and can’t walk) to the fete? There’s been a suggestion of using local tractors & trailers! Well, this is the countryside after all!

Handy fete tip: Have a well-oiled team!
Slow gin & wine certainly make meetings more pleasant. It’s also great when you have a team that makes things happen. I was really impressed that the committee were receptive to new ideas, quickly figuring out how to make things work, whilst ensuring that we don’t lose sight of the traditional character of the fete.

Eggs-ploring the possibilities

I visit the yard. It certainly has potential. I meet the chickens, dogs and sheep.

Greg greets me with a piece of paper. He’s done a suggested layout of where the different stalls could be. There’s plenty of room for parking. There’s even an outbuilding that could be used as a stage for the ukulele band. He’s also come up with a list of possible activities on the back of the layout plan. It’s a working yard, but he assures me that his equipment can be safely locked up out of the way.

The only real drawback is the location. It’s right on the edge of the village – at the Ufton crossroads. It’s about a 20 minute walk from the church.

Impressed by the enthusiasm, I invite him to the meeting on Thursday, at which the committee will make the final decision on the venue.

An unexpected offer

Wandering about the village, and wondering about the different options for the fete venue, I found myself walking past the village noticeboard. I spotted that there was a meeting of the parish council that evening. Maybe they could suggest an easier way to have the fete at the village hall, or come up with a suggestion that we hadn’t yet considered.

So, off I went, with DH kindly offering moral support to help me navigate the complexities and formalities of local government. Their usual agenda allows for a villager to speak for 3 minutes on a subject of their concern. So I explained our dilemma, and requested of their collective wisdom and experience. The parish council were not particularly keen on the road closure ideas. One particular concern (which we hadn’t yet considered) was that parking would be an issue. They also explored the local farm fields ideas – but, again, the lack of power and water was a serious drawback.

The council were expressing sorrow that they were unable to help any further. when, suddenly a voice cried out, “You can have it at mine!”.

It turns out that one of our newest parish councillors is equally keen to do something for the village. He has a tree surgery business, and small farm, just on the outskirts of the village. We arrange that I go there for a look the next day. Could having the fete in his yard work?

I contemplate the new possibilities as the parish council discuss lampposts in the village.

How to plan a fete

I don’t mind admitting that I was somewhat puzzled as to where to start planning a fete. I’ve never done one before. However, I’m an expert in Googling.

A quick Google produced an Australian site: Fetes and festivals which produces a handy pdf document full of ideas.

This was actually quite scary, because, in addition to all the ideas for interesting stalls, there was a list of different paperwork and permits that might be required. The Telegraph added to the gloom, in an article warning that fetes were folding due to all the ‘Elf ‘n’ Safety bureaucracy required . Doom-laden, I sought out the fete’s previous organiser. Fortunately, she had a folder containing valuable information from the last two years’ fetes. My hero!

The first thing I found were minutes from the previous years. And it turns out that most years, it all starts with a discussion about finding a new venue! Who knew?

Also in this valuable treasure trove were names of previous volunteers, previous gotchas, and a very useful risk assessment document (I had learned from my Googling that risk assessment is Very Important).

From these various sources, I was able to put together an initial project plan, which I did using Trello. The plan can be found here – but bear in mind that it’s a working document!

I also called the district council to find out what we needed to do to close a road. Simply put, we would need to notify the affected residents, and then submit a form to the council at least 12 weeks before the event. This would just about fit in with the date of our next meeting, so with this preparatory work done, I headed over to Barcelona with DH for MWC and F1 Testing with a clear conscience.

The hunt for a venue.

It came as a surprise that the committee were looking for a new venue. After all, I’d been to the last two fetes (since living in the village), and whilst it wasn’t the traditional village green location that one immediately thinks of when hearing the words “village fete”, it seemed to work reasonably well.

However, it turns out that the pub has been put up for sale. There doesn’t seem to be any imminent sign of it changing hands, but it could happen. This, and a couple of other concerns, led to the committee considering other venues. The trouble is, there’s not much other choice. Historically, there’s been the Old Rectory, however it’s now in private ownership as the village hasn’t had its own vicar for many years. The owner had previously hosted the fete a few years back, but understandably wasn’t keen to do it again as it’s a massive undertaking and invasion of privacy – simply they’ve done their part & are happy to give someone else a turn.

So, where else? The village is fortunate to have its own very nice village hall. However, it has no grounds and is next to a major road. To have the fete there would require the closing of a cul-de-sac to provide space for all the stalls and activities. Obviously this would be inconvenient to all the residents living there.

We have a historic village green, however this now forms part of some people’s front gardens! It’s too small to support the whole fete, so would need another road closure, and it’s also too far from the facilities of the village hall to be of any use.

As this is a faming community, there may also be also fields available for use. However, we wouldn’t have utilities like power and water, nor access to toilet facilities.

We agree to investigate the options and report back at the next meeting!

Organising a village fete. How hard can it be?

Wanting to contribute more to village life, we went along to the first fete committee meeting. DH (aparently DH stands for “Darling Husband” in common Internet parlance) had an idea for a new entertainment stall, and, having played last year, I would volunteer the services of the Harbury Ukulele Group. A fair few people had turned up, so it was a bit unexpected that the first item on the agenda was to discuss whether they would have a fete this year.

I was surprised, as when viewing the house before we moved into the village two years ago, I knocked on the neighbours’ door. A nice lady came to answer, and told me a bit about life in the village. One of the highlights mentioned then was the village fete. Cousin A, who was with me, agreed. It seems that DH’s mum and Auntie Nellie were firm fans of the fair, which was famed for its bargains back in the day.

Anyway, it seems that part of the problem was that no one wanted to organise it this year. People have other responsibilities, and the lady who organised it last year has her house up for sale. So, thinking it would be a shame to lose such an long-established tradition, and fuelled by a rather pleasant glass of red wine, I put my hand up to volunteer. DH looked quizzically at me. But I was not daunted. After all, how hard could it be?

We’d been to the last two fetes. A few stalls and activities at the local pub. It was clear that there were many willing volunteers, and that everyone knew what they were doing. All it needed was a bit of co-ordination, right?

I was thrown my first curveball straightaway. We needed to look for a new venue.