On Easter Saturday 2019, West Street in Faversham was unusually blessed with sunshine and crowds. It was the 6th Annual Hat Festival, a community occasion for anyone who wished to join in. This year the festival was kindly organised by Faversham Town Council. I started the Hat Festival in 2014. A customer had told me about a Hat Festival in Brigport, Dorset, organised by a Hat Shop Owner who shared the same street address as my shop, West Street! It was an omen, I had to start a Festival and our beautiful medieval West Street was just the perfect street for a parade.
The first Faversham Hat Festival aimed high, we wanted to involve the local community as much as we could. A visit to Faversham Age concern to talk about hats was one project we undertook, creating a video presentation of interviews with the residents about what they remembered about wearing hats in their lifetime. We invited the residents along to the Hatter's Fair that we organised at the Alexander Centre so that they could watch themselves on the big screen.
We ran a poster compition that was won by Vikki Mulford, a local art student who went to school in Faversham.
The structure of the day included the parade, a Hatter's Fair held at the Alexander Centre, afternoon entertainment and a dance in the evening. A lot of preparation went into the festival, we ran hat making workshops for adults and children. Siobhan Timoney and myself visited a local primary school to make hats with
the little ones. A week before the festival as a marketing strategy we hat bombed the town, each hat had a label that invited it's finder to decorate it and then wear in the parade.
See if you can locate the hats we hat bombed around Faversham.
Saturday 19th April 2014 arrived, the weather was fine and I hoped that the prizes for the Hat competitions, donated by local businesses had enticed enough people to join the parade, donned in their magnificent creations. We had hired some street entertainment and had a few wandering minstrels to jolly the parade on......and we weren't disappointed, not before too long a crowd gathered and suddenly West Street was awash with people and hats.
The lovely parade was led by Jack our Town Crier.
We paraded through the Town to the Alexander Centre and were serenaded by the Fleur Singers as we entered Gatefield Hall.
It was a wonderful first event and the festival has gone from strength to strength. Here is a gallery of Faversham Hat Festival Memories over the years.
And then we danced......
May there be many more!