Ambitious plans to make first-ever village arts festival into annual event

Jonathan Leach - organiser of Duffield Arts Festival.
Jonathan Leach - organiser of Duffield Arts Festival.

Residents in Duffield are being encouraged to make the village’s first-ever arts festival a weekend to remember.

On Saturday, September 17 and Sunday 18, the village will come alive with a number of arts entertainment events and acts.

Andrew Cope will open the Duffield Arts Festival.

Andrew Cope will open the Duffield Arts Festival.

The family festival, from 10am to 4pm, which will be opened by children’s author Andrew Cope, will feature singers, painting, workshops, competitions, music and on-street entertainment across the village.

Jonathan Leach, festival coordinator, said: “I am amazed at the interest that has already been shown, and I hope it will be a feature of Duffield’s calendar every year.

“I have come up with the concept and I am coordinating the event, as I think anything that brings the community together to celebrate is a good thing.”

Mr Leach has been a director for 14 years and currently runs a not-for-profit theatre and education organisation, called Stepladder. The group visits schools and delivers drama performances which have important messages for young people.

“I think it is nice for people to get involved in their community and that is what I want people to do.”

“Even if they are not particularly brilliant at something, it is good to have a go. It is about enjoying new experiences.”

More than 15 of the village’s venues will be part of the major event, including the Weston Centre, Duffield Library, churches, the train station, pubs, schools and other places. Duffield Parish Council is also supporting the event.

Activities across the weekend that people can get involved in include a short story and photography competition and a scarecrow trail - which all residents, schools, community groups, shops, businesses and churches are encouraged to join in.

More details about these events and ticket details will be released on the Duffield Arts Festival website in March.

Liz Page, Duffield Parish Council clerk, said: “We are really excited about it.

“We are supporting the event by helping with prizes and room venues.

“One of the things to come from the Duffield Action plan was that residents wanted more community events in the village.

“One of the those people on the Action Plan board was Jonathan Leach. To organise the arts festival alongside his full-time job is just amazing.

“We are really excited and it fits in with what they want.”