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“I will never forget a couple of years ago, when the crowds were lining Bennerley Road watching the men’s final at Wimbledon. A car pulled up at the top, carrying a husband, wife and their newborn twins, just out of hospital. Our stewards cleared the way so people lined the street as the car came down the road. As the father got out he held up a baby-filled car seat in each hand and the crowd cheered! What a homecoming! It doesn’t get more Nappy Valley than that,” laughs Jonathan Dyson, organiser of the Northcote Road fete – and manager of Hamptons International, when he isn’t sorting out this year’s record-breaking 150 stall holders.
The Northcote Road fete is set to be bigger and better than ever; with 35 more stalls than before, it’s even spilling on to a few side roads. Community ping pong tables, the Wimbledon men’s final on a giant screen (c’mon Andy, do it again!), two pop-up markets, a live entertainment stage and three fairground rides, not to mention all the food and drink you could desire, will keep visitors busy all day long. There are even rumours of an open-top bus serving Champagne and oysters; it recently visited Highclere/Downton so if it’s good enough for Lord Grantham, it’s good enough for us! But there is plenty more choice if oysters aren’t your bag – from gourmet hotdogs and burgers, to ice-cream and traditional French crepes. Quench your thirst at the many eateries and drinking spots on Northcote Road, as well as at a large selection of visiting street food stalls. The Bolingbroke will have their usual hay-bale tables and chairs, providing a great spot to watch the kids go up and down (and up and down) the famous AstroGlide. Northcote Road fete wouldn’t be the same without it!
The south end of the street will host the pop-up market where you will find over 100 stalls to browse offering handmade silver jewellery, children’s clothes, homeware and accessories, much of it designed and made by local people. As always many local traders will venture beyond their shop fronts, such as Sweaty Betty who will be kicking off the day with relaxing yoga on the main stage. The day will end there with a sing-a-long from headline act, the Lavender Hillbillies, and look out for local musical and dance performances throughout the day.
In keeping with the community atmosphere, the fete’s charity partner this year is Battersea Arts Centre, which suffered a devastating fire in the building on Lavender Hill earlier this year. Do go in to Chatham Hall and meet them; you can also play tombola, meet the children’s entertainer Eddie, have your face painted and jump on the big bouncy castle. All proceeds from these activities will go to BAC.
Friendly, neighbourly, unique, these are words constantly used to describe Northcote Road and Jonathan’s mission is to make the fete a true reflection of this. “When I leave my house and walk to work, I have said hello to so many people by the time I get here. Northcote Road is a unique spot with a strong community feel and the fete is a coming together of all the stakeholders: residents, shopkeepers, businesses and traders. Everyone involved is local – we don’t need to provide loos because people can just pop home!”
Whilst the fete is a celebration of our area and a way to meet our neighbours, it’s thanks to the Northcote Road Business Network, which Jonathan chairs, that it’s happening at all. “The small local businesses put so much in to the day. With £50,000 of sponsorship required, they have made all the difference.” Parking bay suspension, twenty stewards, bus diversions (which also involve tree cutting on Bolingbroke Grove for the double deckers), 51 hanging baskets, fire truck, ambulance and a professional event organising team (those stalls don’t book and position themselves), it’s a huge production.
Estbury Basement’s generosity as lead sponsor has real made a difference. You can see their stall opposite Hamptons International and climb aboard a digger to search in the giant sand pit for buried treasure. “The fete is a great opportunity to bring the community together and great fun for all the family – it gives us a fantastic opportunity to try and give something back to the community that has given us so much support over the years,” says Richard Peel of Estbury Basements.
It takes people who truly love their area to put an event like this together, and Jonathan is passionate. “On fete day last year, I stood in the road at 5am, watching the mist before the sun had burnt it off. It was deserted, no cars or buses or people – not a sight you ever see on Northcote Road. It was magical.”
We look forward to the magic at this year’s big event!
When: Sunday 12 July, 11am-5pm
Where: Northcote Road
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