Where Did It Begin?
Allington has an impressive track record of staging community events. Many people still have fond memories of the village galas of the past. On the Green is a direct descendent of those events. There are still members of our organising group – the playing field fundraisers – that participated in the galas. They reminisce about the wonderful community spirit. It is that same spirit, and the desire to deliver top quality entertainment, that drives us on.
On the Green did not arrive perfectly formed. It has evolved over a long period that has seen many triumphs with a few hiccups thrown in for good measure.
Lark In The Park
Or was it Party in the Park? No one seems to know. What we do know is that nearly 20 years ago the Allington Playing Field Fundraisers were formed with a view to improving the local play facilities. Lark in the Park was a Summer event at the playing field. It originally consisted of a trailer stage, a dodgy PA system, and a couple of local bands. The fundraisers made money by selling hot dogs and burgers and the occasional can of beer via a portakabin window.
If Lark in the Park had a drawback it was its dependence on the weather. It was never cancelled but in 2008, a young Tom Cant, writing in Allington News, said ” the rain held off but the mud was like Glastonbury”. The event limped on for two more years but things had to change. At a meeting of the Fundraisers in March 2011 a decision was made to revamp Lark in the Park. It was completely overhauled. A huge marquee was brought in together with a high quality band and professional P.A. It worked. Numbers were up and the increased revenue offset the higher overheads. The Fundraisers were also able to invest in a couple of mid sized marquees of their own.
It should be noted that some generous sponsorship from Mike Sharp was more than helpful. The following year the Fundraisers successfully applied to the lottery for some funding to support the Jubilee celebrations. Lark in the Park formed part of those activities and the grant helped to keep ticket prices down.
One notable event that took place during the Jubilee celebrations was a music quiz. Organised by the Fundraisers it was held at the rear of the Welby utilising their new marquees. More than one person commented on the suitability of that area for future events. Later that year, in September, the Fundraisers organised a beer festival at the Welby in the same space and with the same marquees. The beer was served from an adjacent barn. There was even some live music courtesy of The Regulars.
In 2013 Lark in the Park reached its zenith. The event featured the Queen tribute Mercury. The weather was superb and for the first time we saw an audience that had travelled way beyond Allington’s usual catchment area. A profit of £2,000 was realised.
After 2013 we saw a continuation of good audiences but it seemed hard to develop the event further. With headline acts costing over £1,800 overheads began to creep beyond the £4,000 mark and it became increasingly difficult to return a profit commensurate with the efforts invested.
In 2015 a Sunday car show was added to the event, This proved popular but was was of little help to the development of an audience for the Saturday night event. The Playing Field Fundraisers began to think about a change of format and at their meeting in November 2015 decided to look at a weekend event, in a central village location, to replace Lark in the Park.
Given the past experience with events at the Welby, the ownership of marquees and other equipment now available to the Fundraisers, it was a very short step to the development of On the Green. The added possibility of locating the car show on the Village Green suggested that it would be possible to develop a package of weekend entertainment with broad appeal.
On the Green
So 2016 saw the start of a new phase in Summer entertainment in Allington. On the Green showcased live music at the rear of the Welby. The Fundraisers were able to use a range of equipment that they had acquired in the preceding years. Russ Adey provided his superb PA and his services without cost.
The artists’ budget could be spread a little more thinly in the smaller space allowing a comprehensive line up to be developed for Friday and all day Saturday. Sunday saw the car show right in the heart of the village and very quickly a template for a successful event was established. That template has been developed to add a flypast, stalls and other entertainment.
It’s difficult to know what the future holds for On the Green but if history is anything to go by one thing is for sure – nothing stays the same.