Return of the famous festival on the seafront

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Only two hiccups marred the fun and games at the 2013 IRON Age Festival in Cullercoats.

The roads works, which we were promised would be finished, were not. Visitors were denied access to the main seaside pavement and required to pick their way round barriers which obscured much of the sea view.

Secondly the weather was bad – high winds and heavy seas which meant our intrepid 18 poets due to be taken out by Cullercoats fisherman John Stocks on three Sea Haiku trips, were shorebound and plans for our pamphlet of resulting sea poems was also grounded.

That apart, the festival was a hoot. We’re hoping for better weather from June 4-7 for our Eclectic IRON Festival; also hoping that rumours (oh, cruel fate!) that Northumbria Water will yet again be digging up the sea front, are without substance.

The best festivals are in small towns or villages with strong identities. Cullercoats fits both categories. All six venues are on the seafront and you could lob a kipper from any one to any other. In the following weeks I’ll be writing about the famous and not so famous who are appearing.

In 2013 our most famous guests were Melvyn Bragg, David Almond and Ian McMillan all of whom played to full houses. But – equally as important – so too did the not-so-famous and for many people one delight of the festival was in coming across previously unknown literary and musical talents.

People still talk in hushed tones of one highlight; the Crescent Club committee member who bang in the middle of Ian McMillan’s poetry and comedy act, wheeled on the Bingo flashing numbers machine to interrupt the performer mid-stream and announce that night’s winners. And not a flicker of emotion crossed his face …

More next week!