Blog – The Feast-story of Feast!

Blog – The Feast-story of Feast!


I was asked by an old acquaintance if I could drop down to the West Norwood Feast in October to play a short set. I’m always happy to support community minded, charitable, philanthropic, altruistic or humanitarian projects and the like when I can. The bonus was a glorious autumnal day and a great atmosphere promulgated by the market and its fantastic volunteers, and the infectious jubilance of talented performers like the guys below, and the crowd response!

Held on the first Sunday of the month, April through to December, in West Norwood (London)  I was one of many volunteers involved in the early days of this street market festival, even before it came to life. Meeting up with locals in workshops held by reps from Space Makers Agency in 2011 – who were funded by the Council and I think later a little pot of money from City Hall – we were tasked with assisting the local community in bringing something special to the area. See a brief Feast-story here.

Now thriving in its sixth volunteer-powered year, I was returning after bowing out a few years earlier to tend to my muse and creative endeavours.  It was great to see it flourishing and to know that some five thousand plus locals take to the streets on a Feast day to join in the fun or just hang out.

Feast has: “around one hundred market stalls over five sites along the high street. Volunteers book the stalls and organise a full programme of free fun and creative children’s activities (from sports days to mural making) and live entertainment (musicians to brass bands to live DJ’s, and open mic performance spaces for young people).  It is a farmer’s market, a craft fair, a flea market and a street food hub all rolled into one, even though the main goal is to provide an experience wider than that”.

On that note and I love this: “each monthly Feast is themed by volunteers who organise free community engaging events in addition to the core market activity. Ranging from talks on Caribbean cuisine for Black History month, a fashion show showcasing local talent and retail, art trails up and down the high street, to a Sports Feast featuring all the local organisations that promote active lifestyles”.

Yay Feast! It really is a unique and extra-ordinary market.

My journey in Feast didn’t come without its challenges. What worthwhile thing in life does? (If you got something feel free to share?). Amongst the many, many, great experiences and interactions with people there were also ideological tussles with other volunteers, annoying egos including mine ;-), absent stall-holders and an occasional tricky punter. There were differences of opinion in approach or direction, silent self-reflection and questioning whether values were aligned. Ochone (alas in Gaelic ;-), that is the politics of life. But is it not also what brings true value, in growth and development, and what being a living, thinking, feeling being in life, within increasingly complex living and societal structures, is about – grist for the mill as they say!

A meaningful project with a legacy (I can’t say that about every one I’ve done), and that I am proud of (rarely use this)!

Anyway, back to business.  I’m telling you… these guys from One Drum West African Workshop were uplifting and elevated the crowd to another level  – that’ll be standing  – evidenced by the truly ‘not easy to achieve’ crowd participation!

Love Feast?  Get a Feast!  Hook up with other locals and make ‘your’ Feast, or mini project, idea or event.  Get on Facebook and find volunteers or go through the local library or other community space. Pots of funding can be found through local government initiatives and/or city-wide programmes. Or drop me a line if you want to brainstorm.

Adieu. Over and out!