WHITTLESEY: Town gears up for 30th staging of world-famous Straw Bear Festival

HUNDREDS of people from around the world will flock to Whittlesey next weekend, for the 30th Straw Bear Festival. This year s procession, however, will not leave the Ivy Leaf Club as in other years, after a ruling from Cambridgeshire County Council s high

HUNDREDS of people from around the world will flock to Whittlesey next weekend, for the 30th Straw Bear Festival.

This year's procession, however, will not leave the Ivy Leaf Club as in other years, after a ruling from Cambridgeshire County Council's highways department that the A605 cannot be closed for any parade or procession.

Instead, the world-famous parade will start at the roundabout end of Broad Street.

The world-famous festival kicks off with a Friday night concert featuring Dogan Mehmet, finalist in this year BBC Radio 2 young folk musician of the year, and Matt Quinn followed by The New Rope String Band. It takes place at the Ivy Leaf Club, from 8-11.30pm.


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Saturday's processions starts at 10.30am and will feature dancing along Market Street and on the Market Place until lunchtime.

The bear will then walk to the south side of the town, for more dancing around a number of pubs, before returning to the Market Place by 3pm for the finale.

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Meanwhile, from 12.30-3.15pm on Saturday, there will be storytelling with Deborah Newbold at the Queen Street Methodist/United Reformed Church.

And, from 2.30-3.30pm, Mehmet and Quinn will be performing music at Whittlesey Library.

A barn dance will be held at Sir Harry Smith Community College on Saturday, as will a Cajun dance night at Park Lane Primary School. Both events run from 8-11.30pm.

The festival ends with the traditional bear burning ceremony at Sir Harry Smith Community College, from noon-2.30pm on Sunday.

The Straw Bear Festival, a tradition dating back hundreds of years, used to be held on the Tuesday after Plough Monday.

It died out at the end of the 19th Century, but the event revived by the Whittlesea Society in 1980.

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