Crowds show bulldog spirit in downpours at Devizes International Street Festival

This Is Wiltshire: Strong woman Betty gives Matt Goddard and Brandon Wellard a twirl at Devizes International Street Festival. Picture by Diane Vose Strong woman Betty gives Matt Goddard and Brandon Wellard a twirl at Devizes International Street Festival. Picture by Diane Vose

Instead of re-applying sun cream, visitors to the Devizes International Street Festival on Bank Holiday Monday had to dodge puddles.

Waterproof jackets and umbrellas were needed rather than shorts and T-shirts.

Despite the heavy rain, hundreds of people came out and were determined not to let the rain spoil the day and they enjoyed top quality entertainment in the town centre.

Annual visitors Amanda Hopgood, 50, and friend Mick Penny, 70, were wearing shorts but keeping dry under umbrellas.

Ms Hopgood, of The Brittox, said: “We are not worried about the weather – your legs dry quicker wearing shorts! I come here every year, I’ve not missed one.”

Mr Penny said: “It’s great entertainment, we love all of it and especially the bands.”

The free event organised by Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts, had performers from all over the world.

Third year students from Circomedia in Bristol were playing lollipop ladies and with their portable zebra crossings made sure it was safe for visitors, including Devizes mayor Sarah Bridewell, to cross.

Getting the music underway on the stage outside the Corn Exchange were The Long Notes playing their distinctive folk, roots and celtic music, followed by Cumbia All Stars from Peru.

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Carnage Productions, from France, were due to abseil down the town hall but they cancelled on Sunday due to a member being injured.

However, Bongo Bolero, known as Dick Danger, wowed the crowds outside the town hall with his mastery on a 20ft+ high pole that was slippery due to the rain. His finale was plunging headfirst down the pole into a bucket of water on the ground, ironically the rain had stopped by this time.

The Strong Lady showed off her muscular prowess, firstly by tearing a thick paperback book in half, snapping in half a metal chain and then she progressed to lifting men, she had plucked from the audience, into the air.

Her closing stunt was the human carousel where she spun round two men sitting in straps by a bar on her neck.

Stalls were selling a variety of hot food in the Market Place including Thai, Caribbean, roast potatoes, burgers, sausage and mash.

The Kennet and Avon Brewery also had a stall for the first time at the festival and director Malcolm Shipp said: “There’s a bit of British bulldog spirit going on considering it is chucking it down. It will still be a good day but not as good as it could have been.”

Returning to the festival for the third time were madcap double act Richard Garaghty and Goronwy Thom who started their show during a respite from the rain.

Their impromptu gags on unsuspecting passers-by, parents with prams and a dog belonging to a member of the audience had everyone howling with laughter.

They are supreme showmen and by the end of their set – the rain falling again – they were on unicycles, removing items of clothing and juggling clubs.

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