Willow Park Craft Fair 2016

The weather this Bank Holiday was glorious, so myself and my Mother in law decided to go along to the local craft fair which was being held at Willow Park in Newton-le-Willows and we weren't disappointed! A craft fair featuring ferret racing, stump carving and stone masonry - what else could you want? (This is an incredibly photo-heavy post!)


It isn't often we are blessed with a gloriously hot Bank Holiday Monday in England. Usually we all end up inside, lamenting the fact the rain is bouncing off of the driveway and wishing we could be out doing something. So naturally when we did get a day of sunshine, I wanted to make the most of it. The park on the other side of town was holding a craft fair and a food festival, so we put on our walking shoes and had a wander over.
 

 
The first thing that caught our eye was the Greenwood Twiggs stall. The gypsy flowers you see above were being made as we watched, and I fell in love with them! All the materials that are used by Greenwood Twiggs are locally sourced and managed very carefully as not to cause any lasting damage to the woodland. I love how different the flowers look, and I'm a little frustrated with myself for not picking up a few for when we move into our new home!
 


 
Ferret. Walking. You heard me.
 
Never have I ever visited a fair, and been offered the opportunity to walk a ferret. I was beyond words at this point! I didn't actually get to walk one, but I did sneak in a bit of a cuddle with one and they do feature later in the post. The ferrets have all been rescued from homes that weren't suitable or places they've been abandoned, and the work the handlers do is short of a miracle. Each and every animal was happily keeping children occupied, or receiving love and attention from the public - and each had his or her own character. I'm a Benji fan, personally.
 


 
Another one of my favourites. The hedgehogs! They caught my eye when we first got to the fair and were queuing for food, again if we had our own garden I'd have snapped them up. Hopefully when we do secure our own home, I can contact them on the ecoartswillowcraft@gmail.com e-mail and possibly get one through that. They had a huge range of different hand crafted decorations as you can see, and the stall got a lot of attention so I know I'm not the only one who fell in love with something!
 
 
Another thing I really liked was seeing the craftsmen behind the various items being sold - there, working at the stall. People such as the basket weavers (above) were happy to sit and chat with you about their craft, and showed you how certain items had been created - it was really humbling to sit and talk to them. Thank you for taking the time to answer my five-hundred questions, everyone!
 
 
 
A lot of the items for sale were eco friendly and locally sourced which I love. The area surrounding Newton-le-Willows is incredibly diverse with lots of materials crafters can use - from local woodland to the waterways. The community are good at keeping areas clean, safe and they are used for a whole variety of events. To know that local artisans see that too is incredibly comforting - having moved from a big city to a small town, its something I have picked up on quite a lot.
 
 
 
The Friends of Sankey Valley were there, with a stall offering huge amounts of information on Sankey Valley itself and various ways to get yourself out there on a fitness level. I was very interested to know about what you can - and can't - feed the ducks! While I do carry a bag of duck food purchased from Pennington Flash with me when we go out, I didn't know you could give them peas and shoots.. And even more surprised when I was told instead of bread, you can give them frozen peas as its better for them!
 
 
 
Unfortunately, I did make a note of this wonderful gentleman's details but I can't find it - soft harp music was filtering around the fair and it was so soothing! He lovingly creates his harps, which he had an assortment of around the stall. Various bits were laid out so you could see how much work goes into making the instrument, and he was giving an incredibly good display of how they sound too!
 
 
 
 
More stalls from various members of the community. Each and every stall was buzzing with people chatting, watching or buying - the stall holders again shining. Everyone was happy to chat with you and initiate conversation and not just to try and tempt you with their goods. It was a really wonderful community feel as you wandered around, and the atmosphere was fantastic!
 

 
Sankey Canal and Restoration Society also had a stall, and with the amount of times we've explored the area we made sure we picked up a trinket to contribute. The work that has gone into restoring the waterways and reserves around Sankey is immense and without the hard work of volunteers and fundraisers - well, I'm not sure it would happen. Its one of my favourite places to wander, so I'm incredibly grateful for the hard work and dedication of these individuals.
 
 

 
Ste Hayden was doing some of his chainsaw carving live, which was fantastic to watch! The stump transformed itself over the course of the afternoon, which as we left was looking strikingly like an owl. You can follow Ste on Facebook to keep up to date with his carvings, I thoroughly recommend it. He also offers his services as an arborist!
 
 

 
 
Cheshire Falconry had an incredibly busy stand - everyone was keen on getting a look at some of the birds of prey they had brought along! The Sea Eagle was my personal favourite, even if he did keep calling and scaring the ferrets. The handlers were fantastic, encouraging people to handle the birds and have photographs taken while making sure the birds were kept calm and happy. I can't imagine that's an easy task in a field packed with people!
 

 
 
Another popular stand was the Knot Tyers! You could create your own skipping rope, watch demonstrations or pick up a cute little trinket which were hand made. My personal favourites are the little bees you can see above - googly eyes and everything - although the book worms are just as adorable.
 

 
A stone mason, showing off his incredible talent. Again, he was urging youngsters from the crowd to have a try at his craft which was great to watch. Some of the artisanal skills on show at the fair are almost lost in the world of technology and mass produced goods so its really refreshing to see them first hand.
 

 
I told you they'd be making another appearance.
 
In the middle of the fair was a cordoned off area which everyone was a little curious about. All became clear however when some of the critters from the ferret walking stand were brought over. Ferret racing!
 

 
Each ferret was introduced, and given a coloured tube. The aim of the race was for the ferrets to run through the tube, and the first one out the other end (including tail!) was declared the winner. Children were encouraged to move into the cordoned off area and sit at the end of the tubes, and were given a small slip of paper to write a 'bet' on. Winners would be given a free ticket to the tombola over at the ferret walking stand.
 
Unofficially, me and my Mother in law had a bet too - she went for Amelia in the red tube, I went for Benji (of course) in the green.
 

 
Benji came through for me! It looked doubtful at one point, but it isn't over until the tail has left the tube, people.
 
The fair was a real breath of fresh air for me, and I'm really happy I had a wander over. As I've mentioned, the community-feel of the whole day was amazing, and while I'm gutted we missed out on the food side of things (the walk had wiped us out!) the crafting side didn't disappoint. Thank you to all the organisers and volunteers involved - a great day was had!

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