“Literacy changes lives. But if we really want kids to be readers, let's not forget the fun. Reading should be FUN!“ (SF Said)
And fun was evident throughout the day at this year’s Story Fest. Inspired by Boris Johnson’s Readathon in London in 2013, this was the fourth year enthusiastic volunteers – children’ authors, family, friends and Milton villagers - have come together to inspire and encourage children to read for pleasure.
As a departing visitor said “It really was magical and just gets better and better every year”. The weather miraculously held and couldn’t have been better. It certainly brought out the crowds and a constant flow of visitors throughout the afternoon. Estimated attendance was just over 3,000 at 4pm when visitors were still coming in. Car parks were full to overflowing, expertly controlled by Martin Woodgett and Paul Dougan, whilst excited families queued from half way down the Manor lane to get in. It was great to see so many happy and excited faces, welcomed by Pippi Long Stocking, a Knight, two of the three Musketeers, a high-fiving Darth Vader and a diminutive skeleton, line-dancing cowgirl and mad surgeon on the Gate – just a handful of over 40+ live story characters that brought the setting and books to life.
Hugless Douglas was mobbed throughout the day. Winnie the Witch & Wilbur cast their spells and were joined for the first time by Floppy the Dog who also enjoyed celebrity status. Also new this year was a professional storyteller, Secretary for the Society of Storytelling - an organisation of 500 people committed to promoting the ancient art of oral narrative - the Army Cadets and St Blaise PTA on the Willy Wonka stall. As always, the Mad Hatter put on a fantastic performance drawing large appreciative crowds to his Tea Party.
None of this could have happened without the amazing support, hard work and generosity of volunteers - individuals and companies alike, not least the authors in attendance David Melling, Chris Mould and John Foster and Anthony Mockler for the use of the Manor and its grounds – and last, but not certainly not least, the many, many visitors.
Our sincere thanks to you all for your help and for again showing Milton at its best. As the Guest of Honour, the Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire said it was “A great community event to be proud of”.
Look out for some fabulous photos on the Story Fest Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KidsReadathon/ in the next few days …………. and the proposed date to be confirmed of 15 September for Story Fest 2018.
Anne and John Wattam