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All the fun of the fair, Jester 2017 style

A newcomer’s view of the Jester Festival

The Jester Festival is such a central part of the West Hampstead year – and of the last 45 years – that it’s bit difficult to get an unbiased perspective. So this year WHL asked Irene, as newcomer to the area to take a fresh look. This is what she found…

I moved to the neighbourhood a year and a half ago, running away from the tourists of Camden Market and a hellish Northern/Central line commute. Having lived in four different countries during the previous six years, I had been longing to put down roots somewhere that felt like home. West Hampstead turned out to be that place and the Jester Festival represents everything I love about West Hampstead.

All the fun of the fair, Jester 2017 style

All the fun of the fair, Jester 2017 style

As I got to know and love the neighbourhood – my leafy street, the village atmosphere, the shops and cafés – I decided to find out more about the community by getting to know my neighbours and working to protect our little slice of London. The Jester Festival was the perfect opportunity to do so.

The sun was shining as I and a friend from south London approached Fortune Green on Sunday; before I could see it I could hear jazz in the distance. We arrived to find stalls lining the paths, kids running around, families enjoying their picnics and even couples dancing to the rhythm and blues. It was the perfect village fête, London-style, everyone seemed to be having a great time and in every stall there were friendly faces happy to chat; from local businesses trying to attract new customers to the neighbours’ associations gathering support.

Stand-out attraction, literally, was the climbing wall, a big hit among the younger ones. They didn’t seem to mind one bit when they slipped and were left swinging from their ropes. The political party stalls were pleasantly low-key and more focused on having fun than in campaigning. Especially popular was Labour’s raffle – the children jumped for joy every time they managed to win a box of chocolates.

My favorite stall ? Herbal Haven – I loved getting lost in a hundred colours and aromas, and bought as many plants as I could carry to replenish my small balcony garden.

Fabulous Foliage at Herbal Haven

Fabulous Foliage at Herbal Haven

As part of my WHL research I talked to a wide variety of residents, and everyone was equally welcoming. They told me how they enjoyed the unique family atmosphere of the festival, how many activities there were for the kids and how they enjoyed the fact that all their neighbours were there. Volunteers went on about what a fantastic opportunity the festival was to give back to the community, and the vendors mentioned that it didn’t even feel like work. I only heard one complaint – there weren’t enough toilets for everyone.

There was also time to learn more about some local hot topics. The Neighbourhood Development Forum (NDF), a local voluntary organisation that works to influence planners and developers when making planning decisions in the area, explained its concerns about overcrowding at West Hampstead tube station and with the current development proposals on Gondar Gardens reservoir. These worries seemed to be shared by many of the neighbours, as they were collecting a lot of signatures.

Ravenous after all that chatting, we struggled to agree on what to eat. There was Indian, Greek, and French on offer – everything seemed equally delicious. Decisions, decisions. Finally, we went for the galettes (savoury buckwheat crêpes), gone in 60 seconds. After that it was off to the Lib Dems stall to try their famed cakes. They didn’t disappoint – the lemon drizzle and the fruity chocolate brownie, which we were told were the most popular, were absolutely mouth-watering (and waistline-busting).

Overall impression? With that galette on the grass, the smooth jazz in the air and the children running around felt very similar to happiness. And my friend, who had come from Stockwell to spend the day with me? She decided that she wanted to move to West Hampstead.

All takes all sorts to make a Jester festival

The sun shines on the Jester Festival (mostly)

Once again West Hampstead pulled off its successful local festival, the Jester Festival on Fortune Green. It started the same year that Britain joined Europe, so this year was the 44th. It was an eclectic mix of funfair, live music and stalls from a host of local groups.

All takes all sorts to make a Jester festival

All takes all sorts to make a Jester festival

If you wanted a glimpse of what Remain Britain looks like, then the Jester festival is in its own small way a good example. In some ways a typical British fete with balloons, cakes and jam for sale and a noisy traditional fun fair; but in other ways different. For example, the wide cross-section of locals and the most popular food choices – Greek filo pies (delicious), Indian curries and French crepes. However, not much sign of an out-of-touch West Hampstead elite; rather it was all, reassuringly, down to earth.

The local political party stalls, energised by recent activity, had a host of new faces. Local MP Tulip Siddiq visited the Festival on Saturday and promptly won in the Labour Party raffle, but any hint of it being anything other than free and fair were swiftly denied. The Lib Dems again boosted their coffers by selling sold more cakes and biscuits than one thought humanly possible. The Tories, bouyed by a long planned but well timed visit from Theresa May last week, were out in force.

All the fun of the fair

All the fun of the fair

The Jester remains a family-focused festival. Along with the funfair there were a whole host of other sponsored (i.e. free) activities for children; ranging from the spell-binding story telling tent, to the popular climbing wall and the entertaining circus school. Not forgetting the obligatory face painting. Additions this year were the mini-Olympics organised by Aston from Sidings Community Centre and trampolines at the fun fair, both went down a storm.

For adults, the Jester puts on a surprisingly good line up of music. Varying from the local Fortune Green choir via Jazz and Cajun, to Big Joe Lewis and his Blues band. Alas Saturday’s main band, local rockers Mr Meaner, were welcomed by a rain shower at the start of their performance and the audience melted. However, the shower didn’t last long, the sun returned, and they played with gusto. Overall the weather, which had threatened to be pretty mixed, turned out better than forecast – much to the relief of Jester organisers.

The view from the stage

The view from the stage

Other local groups at the Festival included the Neighbourhood Development Forum and – a safe distance away – Stop the Blocks. Lots of interest at both stalls, where the hot topic was redevelopment of 156 West End Lane.

The popular Jester Tester quizzes sold out, all 300 of them, boosting the coffers of the Friends of Fortune Green. Local community centres Sidings and WHCA were there, explaining their activities. WHAT, the local amenity group that has been at Jester pretty much since the beginning, was also present. Other groups included Hampstead School, promoting the school to potential parents and the WI, promoting its talks, workshops and social events.

All in all, West Hampstead’s social capital was given a useful boost at a confusing time nationally; and thousands of locals spent a pleasant couple of hours at a fun festival in our neighbourhood, meeting friends, supporting local groups and eating cake.

Juggling tennis and the Jester Festival

Another year, another Jester Festival on Fortune Green. This weekend, West Hampstead’s answer to the village fête, clashes with Wimbledon finals. Still, the forecast is set fair, so tennis fans can plan to come before the matches start, and the rest of you can come later. Perfect.

If you needed any more incentive to come along then on the Sunday you can call by the West Hampstead Life stall and say hello to me and some of my guest correspondents. We’re also going to be running a Twitter clinic for those of you who aren’t quite sure what Twitter is, why you should join, or how to set it up. And we’ve got a few other things up our sleeve! We’ve got a stall near the heart of the event so no excuse!

More details on the website, but the programme is below.

Saturday

On the stage

  • 12.00 Open Festival with DJ Earl
  • 12.30 Karate
  • 12.50 Bollywood
  • 1.15 Fortune Green choir
  • 2.10 Gillian Winn: West Hampstead School of Dance
  • 2.30 Mayor of Camden
  • 2.45 Guilfoyle Dance – Irish dancers
  • 3.00 Amy McBye
  • 3.30 Feel the Beat Street Dancers
  • 4.30 Mr Meaner
  • 6.00 Close

Other events

  • Kids Tent: Storytelling and Art Projects 1.00-5.00
  • Circus Skills 12.30-4.30
  • West Hampstead Community Centre: Open Sports 1.00-5.00
  • Face Painting at Chelsea Square stall 12.00-6.00
  • Puppet time with Curly Ru Puppets 1.00-4.00
  • Magician & Balloon artist 1.30-4.30
  • Dalek 1.00-5.30

Raffle: £100 Grand Prize donated by Parkheath. Other prizes donated by Bake-a-Boo, Curled Leaf, Holistic Hair & Beauty, Londis, Mill Lane Barber, Nando’s, Nautilus, Pizza Express, Tiffin Tin, The Village Haberdashery

Silent auction: Outbid your neighbour on goodies donated from local businesses: Achilea Flowers, Alice House, Bernadetta Beauty Clinic, Mill Lane Bistro, Monsters of Art, Movers & Shapers, The Private Space, Tip Toe Nails by Claire, Vini Vivi, West Hampstead Physio, Wet Fish Cafe

Fill out the festival survey for a chance to win a Tiffin Tin Voucher
See the festival programme for a free glass of wine with Sunday lunch at the Alliance Mill Lane

Sunday

On the stage

  • 12.00 DJ Earl
  • 12.30 Sabrina Bronwyn
  • 1.30 Tanya Christina
  • 2.30 Praise Chapel Choir
  • 3.30 Rosie Belly Dancers
  • 3.45 Raffle Draw
  • 4.00 Dan Raz
  • 5.00 Ta Mère
  • 6.00 Close

Other events

  • Kids Tent: Storytelling, Puppet show, and Art Projects 1.00-5.00
  • Climbing Wall 1.00-6.00
  • Caricature and Portrait Workshop 1.00-5.00
  • West Hampstead Community Centre: Open Sports 1.00-5.00
  • Face Painting at Chelsea Square stall 12.00-6.00
  • Magician & Balloon artist 1.30-4:30
  • WHAT Walk: West Hampstead Village Walk, begins at West Hampstead station

Jester Festival seeks acts (and helpers)

The organisers of West Hampstead’s very own village fête, the Jester Festival, are already planning this year’s event.

They are looking for local artists and musicians who would like to participate over the weekend of July 6th and 7th. If you think you might fit the bill, then please e-mail Lyn.

The committee is also on the lookout for new members; so if you’d like to get involved in all aspects of organising the festival, do please e mail Jody .

Jester Festival this weekend

The Jester Festival is this weekend. This is West Hampstead’s answer to the village fête, and there are stalls, activities for kids, and a stage with various music and performances. More details on the website, but the programme is below.

Saturday

On the stage

  • 12:00 Open Festival with DJ Earl
  • 12:45 Guilfoyle Dance – Irish dancers
  • 1:00 DJ Earl
  • 1:30 Mayor of Camden
  • 1:45 Tricycle Theatre
  • 2:45 DJ Earl
  • 3:00 Gillian Winn: West Hampstead School of Dance – Little ballet dancers
  • 3:20 Hampstead School Bands
  • 4:15 The Blow Rock Band
  • 5:00 The Untouchables Blues
  • 6:00 Close

Other events

  • Fortune Green Nursery in the Kids Tent: Storytelling and Art Projects  1:00-5:00
  • Circus Skills  12:30 – 4:30
  • West Hampstead Community Centre: Open Sports  1:00 – 5:00 
  • Face Painting at Chelsea Square Partnership stall 1:00-4:00
  • Puppet time with Curly Ru Puppets 1:00-4:00
  • Magician & Balloon artist 1:30 – 4:30 
  • Dog Day Awareness  Free Dog Training & Advice  10:00- 3:00 (takes place in the Hampstead Cemetary)
  • WHAT Walk: The Streets of Fortune Green  3:00 – Joy Levene will lead the walk from the WHAT stall

Raffle: £100 Grand Prize donated by Parkheath. Other prizes donated by  Bake-a-Boo, Holistic Hair & Beauty, Londis, Mill Lane Barber, Nando’s, Nautilus, Shamrock Dry Cleaners, Pizza Express, Tiffin Tin

Silent auction: Outbid your neighbour on goodies donated from local businesses: Achilea Flowers, Alice House, Bernadetta Beauty Clinic, Fitbees, Mill Lane Bistro, Movers & Shapers, The Private Space, Tip Toe Nails by Claire, Vini Vivi, West Hampstead Physio, Wet Fish Cafe

Fill out the festival survey for a chance to win a Tiffin Tin Voucher
See the festival programme for a 10% discount on Sunday lunch at the Alliance Pub Mill Lane

Sunday

On the stage

  • 12:00 DJ Earl
  • 1:00 Florence Joelle
  • 2:00  DJ Earl
  • 2:30 Praise Chapel Choir
  • 3:20 Rosie Belly Dancers
  • 4:00 DJ Earl and Raffle Draw
  • 4:30 Eddy and the Wild Dice
  • 5:30 DJ Earl
  • 6:00 Close

Other events

  • Fortune Green Nursery in the Kids Tent: Storytelling and Art Projects 1:30-4:30
  • Street Dance Workshop 12:30 – 4:30
  • Climbing Wall 1:00 – 6:00
  • Caricature and Portrait Workshop 1:00-5:00
  • West Hampstead Community Centre: Open Sports 1:00 – 5:00 
  • Face Painting at Chelsea Square Partnership stall 1:00 – 4:00
  • Magician & Balloon artist 1:30 – 4:30
  • WHAT Walk: The Streets of Fortune Green 3:00 – Joy Levene will lead the walk from the WHAT stall