Summer surely isn’t summer without a village fete. Part country fair, part a sale of home-grown and locally made produce, part a celebration of community, the English village fete is a social institution, barely changed since the 1920s.
The Village fete is enshrined in our literary history, from The Famous Five, to PG Wodehouse and Agatha Christie, the Village fete has provided the perfect backdrop against which to set a drama or two, and never attend any fete in Midsomer which is also attended by Inspector Barnaby!
If you want a measure of how well a village is thriving in 21st Century Britain, take a look at its summer fete. More of us are looking for a sense of community in a Britain that seems in danger of fragmenting. To that end tenth generation locals will rub shoulders with commuters, second homers and young families, to discuss the merits of Bert’s onions, Sharon’s Victoria Sponge, and whether young Tyler will win the talent competition with his street dance routine.
Let’s face it, where else can you buy a pot of rhubarb and ginger preserve, enter a competition to guess the weight of a cake, bounce on a bouncy castle and throw a wet sponge at the vicar…or scoutmaster…or head teacher, or all three if you’re lucky?
Village fetes are alive and well in Britain, and I for one am very happy about that. I have just moved from the town to a village and intend to enter my scones in the baked goods competition this year. I doubt I’ll win but it’s the taking part that matters. Now I wonder if there will be a murder…