Wall-to-wall crowd at Westbury's annual Music and Arts Festival

This Is Wiltshire: Ben Shorter, Alison Armstrong and Joe Foale hang out their batik paintings to dry at the Big Draw at Matravers School Ben Shorter, Alison Armstrong and Joe Foale hang out their batik paintings to dry at the Big Draw at Matravers School

Westbury's annual Music and Arts Festival enjoyed a booming run this year, with new young talent mixing with firm favourites.

The music line-up started with Devizes band The Yirdbards, at the Laverton, on September 21.

Then the first week had art exhibitions, a cello recital, life drawing classes and music from the Phoenix Consort choir, at venues across the town.

One of the main art attractions was the Big Draw at Matravers School. Visitors could create works inspired by the theme of lines as “a dot that goes for a walk”.

Last Saturday, Britain’s Got Talent finalist Sam Kelly headed a host of younger performers at the Laverton, which was filled from wall to wall with audience members.

At Bratton Jubilee Hall, festival regulars Finnegan’s Wake performed to a similarly packed house.

Band leader Frank Hackett said: “It was a great night. We had a good time and so did the audience.

“I think most of the events this year have gone well. The festival is becoming really well established now. It’s a great thing for Westbury.”

Sam Kelly performed a mix of covers and original songs, alongside musicians and performers from across the region, including cellist Beth Porter, flamboyant performance poet Muriel Lavender and the Street Bandits.

The festival, which ended on Saturday, also included a lute workshop with Dilton Marsh lutenist Din Ghani.

Festival committee member Roy Inwood said: “I think we saw a few new faces and a few more people turning up than in the past, perhaps thanks to all the events over the summer.

“I think they probably realised what they had been missing in previous years.

“There were about 160 people who went to see Sam Kelly, it was good to see a mix of ages with more of the younger generation there.

“We can’t keep doing the same thing. We did one or two changes this year and they were very popular.

“The idea is to get Westbury known, bringing people and business to the town, putting it on the map.”

Video highlights are at www.wmafestival.co.uk.

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