Kew Fete has become a big event in the local calendar, but what goes on behind the scenes for the big day?
The Fete opens at 11am, but we’re already on Kew Green by 6.30, to relieve the night security guard, who protects the marquee, and to direct the 115 stallholders, who start to arrive from 7.30am onwards. Each stallholder has been given a space number and map, but many still turn up and say ‘Where do I go?’.
There are around 13 of us on the committee – all volunteers and most with full-time jobs, as diverse as a BBC journalist, web designer and TV producer. We start work about six months before the fete, having regular – and often Margarita-fuelled! – meetings to ensure that all the things visitors on the day wouldn’t even think about are sorted out: licences applied for from the Council, the Victorian funfair (and toilets) booked, the plan of the Green mapped out, stall applications received and accepted or rejected, the Sponsors agreed, publicity via social media and publications scheduled, programme and raffle tickets printed, dog rosettes bought and the stage acts booked. We are a great team, who all get on really well, which means we have a lot of fun!
By 10.30, all the stallholders have to get their vehicles off the Green and there’s always a last-minute panic for those who have arrived late and haven’t finished setting up.
There’s always a slight worry at 11am that no one will turn up, but now in our seventh year, it hasn’t happened yet and we get 7-10,000 visitors throughout the day.
As it nears lunchtime, the committee and volunteers are manning the committee tent, mega slide and bungee run, checking the stalls, finding lost children and making sure the Tug of War and Dog Show are on schedule. The Dog Show (pictured bottom) is hugely popular and hundreds throng around the arena as children – and a few competitive adults – show off their pooch: the Best in Show being chosen by the celebrity judge.
The success of the day is always helped by good weather which, of course, you can’t predict. One year we had torrential rain and a couple of years ago the winds were so strong a large gazebo took flight. But whatever the weather, people stay and have a great time.
The fete closes at 6pm and by that time we have all walked miles, constantly circling the Green. Once most visitors have left, the stallholders pack up and the marquee and stage are dismantled. By 8pm we are picking up the last of the litter, so we leave the Green as pristine as we found it. Then it’s off to the pub for a very large drink!