Shropshire Star

Merefest 2017 attracts thousands of visitors - with pictures and video

Zip wire fun and zorbing on the water at Merefest brought wide smiles to the faces of thousands of people at the popular nature celebration.

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Merefest 2017 in Ellesmere

Organised by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust the huge community event held to showcase the beauty of the Meres and Mosses area, which holds a group of wetlands created during the Ice Age.

The all day extravaganza at Cremorne Gardens next to the Mere and featured a variety of activities including live music, a literary tent , crafts, food, storytelling, and information stalls, canoeing, Rowton Brewery bierkeller, falconry, fishing, archery and bushcraft sessions.

Visitors and exhibitors arriving in vehicles were forced to park on side roads after overnight rainfall resulted in a field earmarked for parking and part of the showground becoming waterlogged.

But families were not put off as the rain stayed away on Saturday afternoon.

Merefest a festival of two halves features daytime activities run throughout the day, followed by the Merefest Twilight Zone, featuring more live music, a Wild Shropshire pop-up restaurant and entertainment from puppet and craft group Fizzgigs.

Carol Antoine, 50, a pharmacy technician, of Llanrhaeadr, Wales, was among the revellers enjoying the demonstrations at the Ellesmere beauty spot. She says: "It's the first time that we have come here. There are a lot of things of interest to see and do.

"I've enjoyed learning about the birds and the alpacas and what can be done with their fleece. It's good for people to see what goes on and learn about the wildlife on the doorstep. My son Daniel is quite keen on astronomy and we spent some time at that display."

Nicola Madin , 42, and an antiques dealer of Shrewsbury, attended with seven family members including her sister Ali Winstanley, 36, an artist.

Mrs Madin says: "We are really impressed with how much there is to do. the children have been zorbing in the plastic ball on the lake."

Olwen Owen, 36, a teacher, of Cockshutt, says: "It seems well organised and we're really enjoying it. It's a chance to get out and make the most of the area with my children Amelia, seven, and Charlie, who will be celebrating his fifth birthday in the week."

Charlie Gaskarth, 44, a purchaser, of Ellesmere, says: "It's a great show. I come very year. I love that it's alternative in theme."

Pamela Wells, 44, a manager, of Newport, says: "The arts and crafts are great and the twilight event will be amazing and quite spectacular. It is nice to be able to have something like this."

Shropshire Wildlife Trust's community officer Luke Neal says he was delighted with the huge support for the event that was launched five years ago at another site in Cheshire.

"It is going really well. We have been blessed with the weather. We have seen thousands again come in which is lovely. It's really busy and it's nice to see local people come in to take part.

"Unfortunately it rained overnight and the car park turned into a bog. so we took the decision to close the field as it would have caused a lot of problems. Many apologies for that, despite the issues we have been able to overcome due to the rain staying away.

"This year we are charging admission for the first time. The money we get in goes to the Ellesmere Garden Trust for the upkeep of the park and towards running this event."

The show had more than 30 activities for children and adults to enjoy – from fishing and willow weaving to canoeing on The Mere, mini-beast hunts and pond dipping.

Stands included Ellesmere Heronwatch; The Cellar Church that opened its doors with three people three years ago and has grown into a 95-strong cafe church based, in Ellesmere; the RSPB; Whitchurch Bowmen Archery Club; Wem Town Hall; the Border Counties School of Gymnastics; and the Canal and Rivers Trust.