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Festival returns to Darlington with lots of thrifty delights

If it isn't the thriftiest festival in the country, it certainly should be. David Whetstone looks ahead to the second Festival of Thrift

North News & Pictures ltd John Orchard, left, with Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway, co-founders of the Festival of Thrift
John Orchard, left, with Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway, co-founders of the Festival of Thrift

Some good things have come out of austerity and one of them has to be the Festival of Thrift which is returning in September after a successful debut in 2013.

The festival was conceived in 2012 by designers Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway and John Orchard, a director of recycling firm Marchday which owns Lingfield Point, Darlington, where the festival takes place.

More than 27,000 people attended the first festival last year, exceeding the expectations of the organisers.

“Visitors loved it,” they report. “They soaked up the festival atmosphere, shared, exchanged and learned how to live better, more sustainable lives.”

In keeping with the recycling ethos, the festival will return to Lingfield Point on September 27 and 28 with the promise of “thought-provoking art, interactive entertainment, free workshops, an array of tasty, home-made food, fabulous stalls selling up-cycled, recycled and second-hand goods, activities, crafting, music and tips and advice”.

The key to this new kid on the festival block lies in its title.

“Find out how you and your family can live creatively and responsibly whilst having fun on a budget,” conclude the organisers.

They include festival director Stella Hall, one-time creative director of the Culture10 programme on Tyneside which saw the emergence of Enchanted Parks, EAT! and Juice, all now well established in the region’s festival portfolio.

Stella has just announced part of the artistic element of this year’s Festival of Thrift.

Returning will be the Alternative Village Fete, brainchild of Home Live Art who promise, this time around, edible manicures, carboot disco bingo, the Nu-Urban Gardeners and den building with Lottie Smith’s Fortress of Fun.

The rather queasy-sounding manicures are, in fact, ‘edicures’ and they were devised by Ilana Mitchell who describes them as “a biodegradable, delicious, unisex, non-toxic, non-permanent fashion accessory and a legitimiser for thumb-sucking and nail-biting”.

It sounds a bit yukky to me but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, as they say.

Carboot disco bingo will come courtesy of Disco Jazz and Bingo Meg and it is described as an interactive experience – “part dance lesson, part party, part performance, part bingo”.

“Think Donna Summer down the gala, all coming out the boot of a dinky disco van,” urge the creatives behind the attraction who really do demand a lot of us.

The Nu-Urban Gardeners sound a serious bunch, encouraging visitors “to think about their relationship with the earth and the importance of thrift, recycling and conservation while having fun making miniature gardens”.

They hope to generate a series of mini ‘gardens of thrift’ fit for our financially straitened times.

Lottie Smith’s Fortress of Fun is to be a den made of found and recycled items including cardboard boxes, old sheets, plastic bottles and much else.

“Let your imagination run wild, breathe some life into old rubbish, invent something new and add to the cacophony of noise,” urges Lottie whom I’m not sure I’d want as a next-door-neighbour.

Also making whoopee during the festival will be Shane Waltener who promises “a woven architectural installation using green waste and locally sourced hedgerow materials”.

He wants us, as consumers, to learn a little more about the materials and objects we throw away.

For more details of this year’s Festival of Thrift, go to www.festivalofthrift.co.uk where you can also sign up for updates.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer