Last Sunday, 1,000 or more visitors to a small residential street in Crosspool could browse nearly 50 outlets selling fudge, ice cream, aloe vera, Nepalese, Russian and local food, jewellery, paintings and the ubiquitous cupcakes of all shapes and sizes
Charity and community information was also to hand for those interested in helping the children of Chernobyl, the Women’s Institute, and local birds and badgers, among many others.
“People are increasingly tiring of the McDonaldisation of culture,” said the Rev Frances Eccleston. “I don’t really think we want a world where every High Street looks the same. There’s a beauty in diversity in an area like ours, full of different people with different talents and we want to celebrate that.”
Frances chairs the Crosspool Festival Committee, and has so far been delighted with the turnout to events in the fourth festival, which will culminate in the summer fayre on Saturday at Coldwell Lane and the Picnic in the Park on Sunday on Lydgate Green.
Last weekend saw the open garden event on Saturday, the street market on Selborne Road on Sunday and the unveiling of the second Crosspool Well Dressing on Friday evening, “after a lot of improvisation,” said Pat Lintott, of the well dressing team.
“There were very few sky blue flowers this year, so we improvised by using the backs of delphiniums,” she said.
The honesty in the garden of fellow dresser Mavis Roadhouse was also reluctant to abide by the Crosspool Festival timetable and stayed resolutely green, which was a problem for artist Marie Kirkland’s design, depicting the centenary of the Crosspool Omnibus service using vehicles old and new, with a lot of omnibus windows to illustrate.
With no sign of translucent honesty petals arriving any time soon, Pat and the team decided they had to ‘cheat a little’ and used contemporary and archive photos of bus drivers and Crosspool residents.
Derbyshire well dressers may have been horrified, but the ethos around the growing number of Sheffield wells is to co-operate, improvise according to the uncertainties of contemporary weather, and learn from each other, said Pat, who learned the craft while resident in Bamford. “It’s taken about 150 man hours to make.”
The festival was started by the Crosspool Forum with the idea of joining the long running summer fayre and open garden days with a week of events in between.
“We have two or three major events each day and try to cater for all ages,” said festival committee member and local conservationist Roger Kite. “The festival has grown each year as people enjoy taking part, they recognise what it’s achieved and want to do more.”
Many of the local shops took part in the street market, and in the entertainment, with choirs from the WI and Lydgate Junior School, and dancers including the local Irish dance troupe and dance teams from the June D Gill school, including the well received Street Boys team.
Shopkeeper and charity bun baker Rob Cooper praised the sense of togetherness among local shops and their customers.
“The festival is about celebrating the beauty of locality I think,” said Frances Eccleston. “Crosspool has its own identity, it’s not a sleepy suburb, and people feel a great bond with Crosspool. It’s a zeitgeist thing, about celebrating the local.”
She’d noted the same zeitgeist in her previous parish in Longley, which was full of “characters and humour and community life”.
Roger Kite said he was not surprised that the idea of community festivals and street markets was growing across Sheffield.
“It’s about each community in Sheffield celebrating its own special uniqueness. You get the same thing with local conservation,environment and protection societies,” he said.
“In each valley and ridge of the city there’s another little group that’s caring for that little bit of Sheffield. It’s not just that they’re saying the city council aren’t doing it so we’d better do it, it’s that people like to identify with their own area and say this is what we want here, and then going out and doing it.”