A tree-mendous day out
5:30am Thursday 28th August 2014 in By Barry Leighton
IT began as a small event called Sculptree where the sole attraction was an artistically inclined band of people with a talent for creating sculptures from felled trees.
Over two decades it has grown into one of the area’s most popular summer attractions and during the Bank Holiday Weekend Treefest celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The three-day event at Westonbirt Arboretum saw thousands of people “connect with trees” in a variety of ways – from climbing them and zip-wiring from them to making dens underneath them.
Other related activities and demonstrations ranged from archery and a food festival to falconry and tree cutting – all with a woody, outdoors, “back to nature” theme.
Westonbirt’s events co-ordinator Julie McKellar said: “Treefest was a great success. We had two very sunny days, and even with our rainy Monday people still turned up in their wellies and raincoats to enjoy some time outdoors.”
She said that what continually lured people to Treefest was that it always had plenty to offer, with a wide range of events for adults and children and the accent firmly on family entertainment.
Ms McKellar went on: “New this year was den building. Children really connected with trees by building their own shelters and learning about why animals need them.
“Archery returned to the festival again and proved really popular with plenty of adults and children having a go at hitting the bulls-eye.”
This year’s arena events pulled in large crowds of people to watch, among others, the Welsh Axemen in action.
They earned a hearty applause with their chainsaw and two-man cross-saw demonstrations.
Swooping falconry displays by the Black Mountain team, meanwhile, left onlookers truly in awe of such powerful and graceful birds of prey.
Ms McKellar added: “It was Treefest's 20th birthday and we celebrated with a big birthday parade on Monday when visitors joined in with our tree team, led by horse and logging trailer to celebrate the event’s history and journey.”
Another popular attraction was the newly named Westonbirt at Work exhibitor’s area which this year illustrated “the journey of wood” to visitors through guided walks around the area.
Arboretum recreation manager Simon Hough said: “We were pleased with how the event went over the weekend.
“Twenty years on, it has changed a huge amount from the original event with the chainsaw carvers, who still play a big role.
“It’s very much a fun family day out, with activities for everyone. It was another successful year for Treefest.
“We hope all those that visited the festival enjoyed their day out at Westonbirt and will return to Treefest again next year."
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