CROWBOROUGH residents are in for a treat this summer as the town prepares for its first Community Festival.
The extravaganza will last for almost four weeks from May 1-27 and feature a plethora of activities with the accent on local participation.
The new event will be based around two themes. ‘On Top of the Weald’ will celebrate Crowborough’s location as the second highest point in Sussex, surrounded by glorious countryside such as the Ashdown Forest.
And the second thread will centre on the town’s most famous resident, Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle.
Although the world’s most famous detective will make several guest appearances, the main focus will be on Conan Doyle’s book, The Lost World.
It tells the story of an expedition to a plateau in the Amazon basin of South American where dinosaurs still exist.
This later work was to become a precursor to many such mythical accounts, including the Jurassic Park films.
This will be the inspiration for the first event, to be held on the Bank Holiday on May 1, with Paul Stickland, who co-wrote the children’s book Dinosaur Roar!
The author will be holding a workshop at which youngsters can create dinosaur heads using papier mache and other materials.
There will also be a climbing challenge to replicate the adventurers’ ascent to the long-lost plateau, and a Wilderness Crafts survival guide.
The centrepiece of the Mayday celebration will be an outdoor performance of a 35-minute play called Iguanodon Restaurant.
From inside the belly of a 35ft iguanodon, street performers will tell the hilarious story of 60 years of history and scientific discovery around the subject of fossil discoveries in Kent and Sussex.
The evening will be rounded off with a performance by well-known Sussex band the Noble Jacks, and refreshments will be provided by Food Rocks.
The Crowborough Players amateur dramatists will also be putting on an ‘immersive theatrical experience’ called Beyond Baker Street’ on May 20-21.
This will describe events from the life of Conan Doyle, who was an ardent spiritualist with an interest in the occult. Among the subjects will be his relationship with the escapologist Harry Houdini.
Another feature of the month-long spectacle will be choir workshops with Alexander L’Estrange, a renowned composer of choral music, and there will be a performance of local choirs.
The Top of the Weald theme will focus on conservation, nature and healty lifestyles, with guided walks and talks.
These will be arranged in partnership with the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Sussex Wildlife Trust.
The venture has received a £10,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund and is supported by the town council and local businesses.
Denis Hart, Chairman of the Crowborough Community Festival Association, says: “The Lottery donation was a ringing endorsement of the programme that’s been put together as a community service.
“We are trying to be as inclusive as possible, and the money will be used to provide free services such as a shuttle bus around the local area.”