Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Slightly Odd Village Fete

Prepare to enter a strange world, one that only appears once a year in the historic grounds of Colchester Castle; a world populated by unknown rosy-faced villagers serving tea and cake, meddling with art cannons and competing in village olympics whilst wearing assorted hats. Yes, this is the slightly odd world of Tankton, one of the feature areas of the Colchester Free Festival.

Colchester Free Festival is rapidly becoming one of the best annual festivals featuring live bands, dance arena, comedy, poetry, family entertainment and now its very own village.  As the name suggests it is free to attend and for any money is amazing value, it is a credit to the town and especially those who put in countless hours to organise the whole event.

As one of the official photography team, I was able to mingle amongst the masses and the unsuspecting villagers to capture the 'unique' atmosphere of Tankton and its inhabitants. This blog features some of the photos that I think portray the atmosphere in this part of the festival.  

The chaps at the Buffalo Tank, an independent arts collective based in the Hythe Colchester led by Johnny Buffalo, created the Tankton experience- and what an experience.  The steampunk, slightly vintage feel of the area added an unexpected but enjoyable twist to the festival, something which they successfully managed to recreate from last year's 'Uncivil Unrest' Mexican space.

Visitors to Tankton could stop for a drink at The Tankton Arms, or take a cup of tea in the bedouin tent, and also pick up a snack at the Toast Office.  There were plenty of competitors taking part in the Tankton Olympics, a timely take on the more widely known version including the pony school led by Fiona Totty-Trottmonger; the highlight for me was the Art Cannon, run by Mosschops and Sidewicket, which basically did as suggested, firing paint at an assortment of canvasses.....from a cannon.

Hats off to the Tankton crowd, they really provided a distinct sense of the odd and ended up somewhere between Camberwick Green and The League of Gentleman.  Even the hit and miss weather couldn't dampen the atmosphere.  It may seem odd, but as I walk around Castle Park now with the family I find myself looking around for ghostly rosy-faced villagers offering reasonably-priced tea with more than a hint of anarchy.  I miss Tankton.

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