WEEK OF FUN: The duck race is always a popular competition at Aldbrough Feast
WEEK OF FUN: The duck race is always a popular competition at Aldbrough Feast

ORGANISERS of a historic week-long community event have put together a varied programme of activities with something for everyone.

The Feast, at Aldbrough St John, is a week long celebration which dates back to medieval times. It is not just one singular event, but a collection of different activities that have evolved over the years.

The Feast dates back to 1281 when Edward I granted the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair to John of Brittany, Earl of Richmond. The fair was to be held on the Feast of St Michael (Michelmas), which is celebrated on September, 29.

However, over time the date was brought forward to early August because of the harvest.

Over the years it has endured its ups and downs, nearly closing on a few occasions. During the late 1800s the event was well-known in the area as a week-long booze up.

In 1939 it is said that more than 6,000 spectators descended on of Aldbrough St John to watch the pony racing and show jumping, attracting bus loads of miners from all parts of South West Durham.

Today the feast, which is put together by a volunteer committee, is a more modest affair, but still offers a wide variety of activities for residents and visitors to enjoy.

The main event of Aldbrough Feast is the annual gymkhana, which is always held on the second Monday in August, followed by a fun fair.

Any funds raised by the feast activities are used for the benefit of those living in the area.

In previous years money has been spent on refurbishing benches and renovating the village quoits pitches.

This year the Feast committee has organised a varied schedule of events, kicking off on Saturday, August 10, at 10am, with a sport-themed scarecrow trail around the village.

A produce, arts and craft show will take place in the village hall.

Entries need to be submitted between 10am and noon before public viewing at 3pm. A family quiz with a pie and peas supper is scheduled to be held at the village hall from 7pm.

On Sunday, August, 11, there will be a car boot sale with arts and crafts tables on Low Green from 9am.

A welly wanging competition will be in action from 10.30am until 1pm and archery from 2pm. Songs of praise will be held at the Pinfold at 6pm.

A mixed darts competition in the village hall from 7.15pm rounds off the Sunday entertainment.

On Monday, August, 12, there will be a gymkhana with show jumping and show classes on Low Green from 10am through until 6pm. Refreshments will be available throughout the day and Murphy’s Fun Fair will open on High Green at 6pm until late.

A series of treasure hunts is lined up for Tuesday, August, 13.

There will be one for children and another for adults, both starting at the village hall from around 2pm.

Children’s sports which will include a new tug o’ war competition is at 4pm on Low Green followed by a dog race organised by the Zetland Hunt

There will be rounders on Low Green at 3pm on Wednesday, August 14, followed by a have-a-go session of quoits at 5pm. The quoits knockout competition gets underway from 6.30pm.

Activities are more sedate on Thursday, August 15, with cream teas in the village hall between 3.30pm and 5pm. Then teams need to gear up for the car treasure hunt which will set off from the village hall at 6pm.

The Feast wraps up on Friday, August 16, with a duck race at 5pm on Low Green.

A grand raffle prize draw will take place at 6pm on High Green and the Feast Festival starting at 7pm until late will bring this year’s events to a close.

For more information you can check out the Feast’s timetable by visiting www.ald broughstjohn.co.uk.