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Music and art on the menu at Eden Food Festival

Rehearsals are in full swing ahead of performances by pupils from Ullswater Community College and Appleby Grammar School at Penrith on a Plate before setting off on their first international tour.

[T]he biggest musical gathering ever at Penrith on a Plate will see more than 80 young musicians perform at the event, along with several bands and buskers. The visual arts will also add extra spice to the festival, with shops and businesses across the town hosting art works by Eden Valley Artistic Network (EVAN).

The young musicians are from the big bands, string bands and choirs at Ullswater Community College and Appleby Grammar School, and their appearance at Penrith on a Plate is their final performance before setting off on their first-ever international tour a few days later.

Nearly one hundred musicians and staff from both schools are travelling to Disneyland Paris, where the students will perform for visitors from all over the world at the Videopolis Theatre. They’ll then entertain at two of Paris’s famous parks, including the Champ de Mars at the Eiffel Tower.

The students range from 11 to 18 years old and for some this will be their first time abroad. It’s an opportunity that Steven Bryant, head of music at Ullswater Community College wanted to offer the students, following his own experience as a teenager.

“When I was at secondary school, I was lucky enough to have been on a music tour, so I know what an amazing opportunity it is for the students,” Steven said. “We organised a tour to London in 2015 and the quality of the students’ music improves dramatically through working towards events like this, because it gets the pupils practising so much more.”

The students will treat their audience at Penrith on a Plate to a rousing repertoire of well-known music.

“We’ll be playing pop favourites and songs from the movies and shows – from Rent and Wicked to Disney favourites and, very aptly for the food and farming festival, the theme from Chicken Run!” Steven said.

The students will play at Cornmarket during the afternoon of Penrith on a Plate, promising a rare musical experience.

Also performing during the day are the quirky Barrow Band with songs on a food theme and a cart full of singing fruit and vegetables, and festival favourites Penrith Town Band.

The festival has teamed up with the Eden Valley Artistic Network to bring quality buskers to the town for Penrith on a Plate, tapping into the network’s contacts in the music scene. This new collaboration has also resulted in the band The Misdemeanours coming to the event for the first time, featuring ceramics artist Gwen Bainbridge from the Network. This Penrith-based four-piece acoustic band will bring their blend of old American folk, blues and jazz, with a fascinating array of instruments. As well as the banjo, guitar, cello, double bass and accordion, visitors can expect to hear the kazoo, washboard, a siren and even a saw!

For the visual arts, shops around town are set to become mini galleries during the festival, displaying paintings and works in other media by members of the Eden Valley Artistic Network.

“Many of the art works will have a food or farming theme – two aspects of life here in Eden that reach into so many parts of our culture,” said Richard Utting from Penrith Chamber of Trade, the festival organiser. “Our farming life and landscape in particular inspire many of the artists in our beautiful rural area. It’s fantastic to be able to reflect that in the festival.”

EVAN began in late 2016, so this is the group’s first opportunity to get involved with the Eden Food and Farming Festival.

“We’re very grateful to EVAN for lending their expertise and practical support to organise the art trail, and to Ullswater Community College and Appleby Grammar School. I would love to see this side of the festival grow in future years.”

Full details of the art trail are being firmed up and the full list of art works and locations will be published on the festival website shortly.

Eden Food and Farming Festival is organised by Penrith Chamber of Trade, with Totally Locally Penrith, and funded by Eden District Council, Penrith Town Council, Penrith Business Improvement District and the Pride in Penrith Lottery, with support from Discover Penrith and Jim Walton Toyota.

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