Cranbrook Town News

Cranbrook's 7th annual festival was a huge success

By Geoffrey Hayward
Cranbrook Town News

A huge crowed of festival goers sitting in the sunshine.
The Cranbrook Festival goers in the afternoon sun.

On Saturday, hundreds of families and friends enjoyed an entertainment-packed 7th annual Cranbrook Festival. This year’s Cranbrook Festival, held within the grounds of the Cranberry Farm pub, got the residents dancing, singing and laughing, with two live stages.

The Cranbrook Festival had two live stages, 25 stalls, a bouncy castle, face painting, and an ice cream van. As well as a bar and grounds, the Cranberry Farm pub provided an impressive hot food menu.

A small crowed watching  Red Stitches preform.
Red Stitches on the acoustic stage.

The festival included an acoustic second stage for the first time. The acoustic stage was run by Tony Lock of ‘One Umbrella Music’ and included local artists, Stuart Wills, Bonnie & the Bass, Red Stitches, Reefs of Moonshine, and a guy called Lost Marbles. Karen Hamilton, representing the Cranbrook Festival’s Committee, said, “the committee would like to thank Tony Lock for all his work in putting on an amazing second stage. The acts were all super talented”.

Karen Hamilton, added, “The festival was fantastic, our best one yet I think. Our biggest crowd for sure and it was busy from start to finish which was our aim. We loved seeing smiling people everywhere we looked”.

The festival’s main stage opened at 2:30 pm with the pop cover band Byzantium Lane, who soon got a festival mood going. Next up, Marion sang as Elsa from Frozen for the kids. By 4:30 pm, the whole crowd was jumping to Dance Dynamix, a local dance fitness class.

A huge crowed copying Josh Brown’s dance moves.
Dance Dynamix on the main stage.

Josh Brown from Dance Dynamix said, “We had so much fun! Everyone got up on their feet and danced themselves happy. It felt so amazing to see so many people dancing with us, being in the moment and dancing like no one was watching. I really fed off the audience’s energy”.

Josh Brown added, “the whole day was fantastic! It was amazing to see so much local talent around and to see the support from Cranbrook, and I will be back next year”.

Marion returned to the main stage at 5.15 pm, this time as herself, to sing pop covers.

Then Gemma Stone provided an hour of a family holiday-styled kids disco, which was a massive hit and got mums and dads up too. Karen Hamilton said, “Gemma was great, and I think the kids enjoyed it by the looks of all the happy faces”.

A huge crowed copying Gemma Stone’s dance moves.
Gemma Stone on the main stage.

At 7:15 pm, three Disney characters mingled with the children for a surprise meet and greet photo opportunity. Tanya Sercombe said, “my daughter loved meeting the Disney princesses”.

The three Disney characters.
Photo by Charles Derry.

Reckless rocked the main stage from 8 pm right through to 11 pm. Karen Hamilton said, “from the first song, the dance floor was full all evening. I don’t think we could have had a better finale to our day”.

A photo of Reckless’ lead singer jumping in the air.
Reckless on the main stage. Photo by Charles Derry.

Daniel Moyse, from the Cranbrook Festival Committee, said, “It really was our best one yet. It was brilliant to be the person introducing all the acts. We put on these events for the community, and it was amazing to see everyone coming together and enjoying the day”.

Karen Thomas, Pink Elephant Stallholder and festival committee member, said, “lots goes on behind closed doors [to organise the festival], so seeing the success on Saturday was the best feeling. Many thanks to everyone involved and to the wonderful [Cranbrook] residents”.

Tanya Sercombe, Bee Home Company stallholder and long-time Cranbrook residents, said, “the entertainment was fab. My favourite parts [of the festival] was Reckless and meeting so many local people and chatting to them about [their own] connection to Cranbrook”.

The Bee Home Company stallholders Tanya Sercombe and Christine Ship.
Bee Home Company stallholders Christine Ship and Tanya Sercombe.

During the lockdown, Tanya Sercombe and her sister Christine Ship decided to start a home décor business, which they launched in August 2021. Tanya Sercombe said, “We love providing home items and are now venturing into custom-made items too. On our Bee Home Company web-shop, we are offering Cranbrook residents free delivery using the checkout code ‘LOCALDROP’".

While preparing to write this article, the following questions came to mind. When did the Cranbrook Festival begin, and what was the motivation? So here is a little of the Cranbrook Festival’s history for you.

In 2012, Cranbrook saw its first residents move in. In the early stages of development, Cranbrook had a close-knit village feel. However, as the size of Cranbrook increased, residents worried the close-knit qualities would fade. So, Cranbrook Day, now named the Cranbrook Festival, was created to keep the growing community strong.

Tanya Sercombe, was one of the first 50 households to have moved into Cranbrook, she recalls, “It was quite daunting moving to somewhere that had no history. We moved from Exeter. It was our chance to get on the property ladder. We [soon] loved the community feel. We had a baby and found the support from local groups and young families was so important. We have made so many friends and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else although still waiting for the town centre!”.

One of Cranbrook Day’s original organisers, Helen West said, “Shaun West and I organised the first Cranbrook Day in 2015. We wanted to create a fun day to celebrate the beginning of Cranbrook and start a new tradition. The date we chose was the date the first sod was dug. We had been living in Cranbrook since 2013 and were keen to create a community spirit and encourage new residents to join in with the new community”.

The first-ever Cranbrook Day was held at St. Martins Primary School on Sunday, the 28th of June. According to Todd Plant, who assisted with organising the event, approximately 500 people came. The first Cranbrook Day was a huge success, considering the population was between 1,800 to 2,400 residents in 2015.1

A photo of the first-ever Cranbrook Day in St. Martins Primary School carpark.
Looking back at Cranbrook Day 2015. Photo by Todd Plant.

The event consisted of around 15 local stalls, a bouncy castle, an open mic, and a BBQ run by local scouts. Helen West remembers, “It was a lot of hard work, but the relief to see people’s happy faces and the children having fun made it worthwhile.”

A photo of the first-ever Cranbrook Day in St. Martins Primary School football feiled.
Looking back at Cranbrook Day 2015. Photo by Todd Plant.

In the two years that followed, Cranbrook Day was held at the Cranbrook Education Campus. As with the population of Cranbrook, the festival got bigger. By 2017 Cranbrook Day’s entertainment included a local band and several other performers, such as Chris Wilson DJing.

As well as more entertainment, 2017 Cranbrook Day included several bouncy castles, an inflatable football pitch, and an inflatable assault course. Residence enjoyed face painting, games, and a fire engine. Crafty Cider set up a bar, while several food trucks offered goers a variety of food choices.

A map of the 2017 Cranbrook Day.
Looking back at Cranbrook Day 2017. Image provided by Todd Plant.

By 2018 Cranbrook Day moved to the newly built Cranberry Farm pub’s car park and gardens. Live music became an entertainment staple of Cranbrook Day. As well as lots of local stalls, face painting, food and drink, Cranbrook Day began to include elements of the fun fair, such as bungee trampolines and mini rides. Todd Plant said, “the day was a great success. Thank you to all that came”.

After the 2018 event, the Cranbrook Festival Committee was formed.

In 2019 the committee changed the name of Cranbrook Day to the Cranbrook Festival. The 2019 Cranbrook Festival was again held at Cranberry Farm pub and was a similar event as the 2018 Cranbrook Day.

Of course, the Covid pandemic stopped plans for a 2020 Cranbrook Festival, and the 2021 event was touch-and-go. Karen Hamilton said, “we had about three months to get the 2021 festival together. We changed the date to September as the June date would have been very unlikely to have gone ahead. It was a slightly smaller scale, mainly with fewer stall holders. I think confidence was still quite low after covid. We really wanted the event to go ahead, it had been a difficult 18 months for a lot of people, and we wanted to give Cranbrook something to look forward to. It was a great event, and in 2021 we were mainly sponsored by the Cranbrook Town Council without who we could not have gone ahead”.

Bringing us back to this year’s 7th annual Cranbrook Festival, on behalf of the Cranbrook Festival Committee, Karen Hamilton would like to say, “thank you to all of our entertainers, stall holders, the staff of The Cranberry Farm, and of course everyone who came along and made Cranbrook Festival 2022 a huge success. And a special thank you to our sponsors, The Cranberry Farm, East Devon District Council, Complete Property, Ellie Rich Design, and Otter Valley Rotary, for their monetary donation and for their stewards, who, as always, were a great help, Christopher Wilson Sound Engineer, Charles Derry Photography, Ashley from Wing Media, our very own MC Daniel Moyse from Legends Live Promotions, and Annie’s Balloons for helping us out every year with our amazing stage balloons. We could not have done any of this without you all and really appreciate everything you do for us”.

Finally, Karen Hamilton added “this year, a couple of committee members are leaving, and we need new volunteers to go ahead next year. Please email [email protected] to show your interest”.

  1. Thank you, Cranbrook Town Council for providing the information “circa 1,800 to 2,400 residents in 2015” for this article. ↩︎