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Thousands turn out at Quarry for Shrewsbury's newest festival

Shropshire's newest festival has landed, with thousands turning out for the Party in the Park debut.

Enjoying a drink at Shrewsbury's Party in the Park
Enjoying a drink at Shrewsbury's Party in the Park

Shrewsbury's Quarry Park was taken over by music, comedy, food, beer, and games on Friday evening and Saturday.

The Shropshire Party at the Quarry Park event, from Shropshire Festivals, was an attempt to bring some of the magic of the hit Oktoberfest to the Shropshire spring time.

A giant main stage dominated proceedings, with the infectious strains of sea shanties blaring out for the early afternoon as the Old Time Sailors delivered a spectacular set that looked straight out of the 19th century.

Some of the events team at Party in the Park were from left, Mark and Louise Fletcher, Helen Pickles, Gemma Cossle, Becca Dean, and Mike Andrews.

On a stage packed from left to right with performers, the sing-along style set the tone for a classic festival feel.

And for many you could forget the pandemic had happened, the field was like a throwback to 2019, with people mingling, relaxing, all in a typical festival environment.

Simon Airey, 59, from Shrewsbury, said it was great to see a new event added to the Shrewsbury calendar – and people enjoying life after two years of pandemic restrictions.

Darwins Angels perform on the main stage at Party in the Park

"This kind of thing really makes a difference," he said.

"It's lovely. We missed out on two years of our lives and this feels totally normal, it is like nothing has ever happened and it is what we have got to do. We have to get on with life."

Mr Airey said that it was another event that would help put Shrewsbury on the map – and boost the economy.

Nula Hula – one of the circus performers at Party in the Park

He said: "Events like these are massive exposure for the town. It increases the catchment area of the town, people come to these events, enjoy themselves and then they come back, it is absolutely vital to the economy."

Mr Airey's partner Claire Arthur added: "It is fabulous. We always try and support everything that happens in the town because we are proud of where we live. We are really lucky as a town to have all this stuff going on."

Emma Russell, 27, from Shrewsbury, was at the party with a group of friends and said the addition of the outdoor stage had been a great idea.

Ceridwen Bailey-Williams with one of the more unusual visitors to Shrewsbury's Party in the Park

She said: "It is lovely. It is nice to have a stage outside to have everyone out with the music and enjoying a few drinks."

While families and groups of friends enjoyed the entertainment and a chance to relax, there was also relief from stallholders and producers at the prospect of the world returning to some kind of post-Covid normality.

Tori Beardmore was in charge of one of a number of beer stalls at the party, running the converted Joules brewery van, named the Green Monkey.

The Brass Buttons were part of the music at the event

Ms Beardmore and her parter, George Holding, run the White Horse in Shrewsbury and she said it was great to be out at a show with the special 'beer bus'.

She said: "This is something Joules put together a couple of years ago. It has been sitting patiently for someone to embrace it so me and my partner used it at Oktoberfest."

She added: "I think this is great for the town because it pulls everyone together, especially after Covid. It has been such a challenge. It has not been an easy couple of years and events like this help get people's confidence back into everything.

The Brass Buttons tuning up at Party in the Park

"For me and everyone it is just nice to get a bit of normality back and to bring people together."

Dave Ricketts from CAMRA, was on the organisation's bar, which was showcasing a host of local brewers – including the county's newest, Noble Craft, from Market Drayton.

Mr Ricketts, who organises Shrewsbury Beer Festival, was also delighted to see people out enjoying the event, and sampling some of the 27 beers they had on offer – including tipples from the Salopian Brewery, Howling Hops and Rowton Brewery, among a host of others.

Sammy Williams with Mia at Shrewsbury's Party in the Park

He said: "It is wonderful, after the horrors of Covid especially. We were doing beer festivals right up to the March and then it all just stopped.

"Prior to Covid, Shropshire had 20 breweries but now that is down to nine."

A raft of other local brewers and drinks producers were also present, including Hobsons Brewery, Three Tuns Brewery, The Special Cider Company, The Shropshire Distillery and Gindifferent.

LAST COPYRIGHT TIM STURGESS SHROPSHIRE STAR...... 19/05/2021 Shropshire Party at the Park in the Quarry. Pictured, left, Lisa Hand and Crissy Williams..

Across the field there was plenty to keep the crowds occupied apart from the beer – including a comedy tent, a silent disco, axe throwing, jamaoke, and a bucking bronco.

Organiser Beth Heath said they had decided to put the festival on following the public response to Oktoberfest – which attracted thousands of people to the Quarry last year.

She said: "Oktoberfest was really cool and sold out last year and everyone says 'Why can't you do it again?' so I said yes, but let's have it in the sunshine. It really is trying to get that Oktoberfest vibe but with the sunshine, and there is no better place to hang out than the Quarry."

From left, Teri-Ann Thomas, John Peters, Kevin Taylor and Andrea Rose at Shrewsbury's Party in the Park

Ms Heath said that while the crowds were happy to return – with around 6,000 tickets sold for the event – the producers and performers were equally pleased to be back.

She said: "They love it, they want to be back on it, the traders want to be back on it, the public want to be back on it, and you can feel that in the way people are just enjoying being out, relaxing and having a great time in a beautiful setting.

"The producers want to be back at it. They want more good shows where people are coming in and what you find is the demographic who visit our shows want stuff that is produced locally, they want to chat to a producer and find out all about it."

Ms Heath said that while they had not welcomed the impact of the pandemic, it had allowed time to take stock, and look at how to add to the Shropshire Festivals events.

She said: "The thing with Covid was it gave us time to think and stop and look at what people want from our events. We actually took a step back and tried to look at what we could do to make them even better."

Ms Heath also paid tribute to the volunteer army that help run the event – keeping it going smoothly.

She said: "They really are amazing. there are so many of them. We could literally not do it without them – or if we did ticket prices would have to double."

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