Fes­ti­val for the senses

MAR­KET FORCES: Look­ing for a re­lief from the iden­tikit Bri­tish high street? Why not take a stroll through Wetherby says Chris Berry.

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HEY’RE all the same these days. It doesn’t mat­ter where you go now ev­ery town and city has the same shops, the same high street names, where has all the in­di­vid­ual char­ac­ter gone that made these towns in­di­vid­ual?

For­tu­nately we wise folk in York­shire haven’t suc­cumbed as read­ily to this kind of crit­i­cism with our lovely mar­ket towns. Take a trip around Northaller­ton, Yarm, Skip­ton, Ilk­ley, Ot­ley, Bev­er­ley and many more and you will find plenty that’s dif­fer­ent and unique.

Wetherby fits the cri­te­ria bet­ter than most with an abun­dance of great smaller in­de­pen­dent re­tail­ers, pubs, cof­fee shops, restau­rants and still re­tains its one screen cin­ema. It’s a town that at­tracts day visi­tors along the beau­ti­ful stretch of the River Wharfe where you can walk along­side from park­land and marvel at the weir. It’s also still very much a mar­ket town host­ing a reg­u­lar and ex­tremely pop­u­lar weekly mar­ket day ev­ery Thurs­day and Wetherby Farm­ers Mar­ket on the sec­ond Sun­day each month, so it’s on to­mor­row!

One of the de­lights dur­ing the sum­mer is the weekly af­ter­noon brass band con­cert held at the bandstand in the Wilder­ness car park right next to the bridge ev­ery Sun­day from 2.30pm and run un­til the end of Septem­ber. Bands head­ing to Wetherby in the com­ing weeks in­clude those from Drigh­ling­ton, Thurl­stone, Hon­ley and Kip­pax. To­mor­row it’s Shep­herd Group Con­cert Band.

Wetherby Races start its new jump sea­son on Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 14 hav­ing added flat rac­ing to their cal­en­dar for the first time ear­lier this year, but there’s another event that is set to see thou­sands de­scend on both the race­course and the town in Septem­ber when the dance mu­sic event Mint Fes­ti­val takes place bring­ing some of the world’s lead­ing DJs. This was held at Lother­ton Hall and the Lin­colnshire Show­ground pre­vi­ously.

Or­gan­is­ers of this year’s Wetherby Arts Fes­ti­val will be hop­ing their line-up in Oc­to­ber will once again ap­peal to all ages. The an­nual literary lun­cheon in­cludes au­thors Amanda Owen, the York­shire Shep­herdess fea­tured on ITV’s The Dales; his­toric fic­tion writer Tim Leach; and north-east nov­el­ist Deb­bie Tay­lor who wrote Her­ring Girl. It takes place at the Bridge Inn in Wal­sh­ford. Other high­lights cur­rently in­clude con­certs by the Leeds Sym­phony Or­ches­tra, St. Ai­dan’s Swing Band, trib­ute band Bea­tles For Sale, Leeds Male Voice Choir and a Fun Dog Show.

The fes­ti­val starts Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 16 and runs for just over a week. Hav­ing seen how hard the small com­mit­tee works on this event to bring it to­gether bi-an­nu­ally, with a smaller ver­sion in the in­ter­ven­ing years – and hav­ing at­tended nu­mer­ous of the events, as well as be­ing one of the past literary lun­cheon au­thors I would thor­oughly rec­om­mend that you look out for the full pro­gramme.

If you’re a history lover Wetherby never dis­ap­points ei­ther. Take a look at the plethora of blue plaques around and you get a feel­ing for what the town must have been like in its early days. There was once a castle here and the town was the fi­nal rest­ing place for the Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans be­fore they took to the bat­tle­field of

PIC­TURE: MIKE COWL­ING

BACK IN TIME: Some of the sights that can be seen on a walk by the River Wharfe at Wetherby

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