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Barton Gardens Festival

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
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See Teddy Bear Rides, Scarecrows And Maasai Warriors
Dozens of teddy bears and other soft toys mingled with scarecrows and Maasai tribesmen from Africa as a picturesque Staffordshire village opened its gardens, and much more, to the public. The Barton Gardens Festival, held at Barton-under-Needwood, near Burton-upon-Trent, over Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June, offered plenty of excitement and interest for visitors of all ages - although there was clearly an emphasis on entertaining the children.

Barton Gardens Festival
Welcome to Barton Gardens Festival

The main idea of the annual gardens festival is for local villagers proud of their particular plot of land to open them up to visitors on one day of the year. More than a dozen gardens duly opened to the public, who were helped on their way by numerous signs pointing out the hidden gems, as well as a number of stopping off points for refreshments. Adults pay 5 to view the gardens with proceeds going to a mix of local and international charities.

Barton Gardens Festival
Children enjoyed watching their teddy bears ascend St James' Church tower

But this was also a special delight for children as organisers of the gardens festival laid on an impressive set of Teddy Bear Rides to thrill and delight both the soft toys themselves and their young owners. The majority of the rides took place in the churchyard of the delightful Tudor Church of St James in the centre of the village, while the church itself was hosting an exhibition of arts and crafts, accompanied by musical entertainment. But there were also a couple of teddy bear activities down at the Barton village pond.

Barton Gardens Festival
The Teddy Shuttle did great business over both days

Children signing up for the Teddy Bear Rides first had to create their own authentic-looking passport with personalised photograph, which then had to be shown at the 'boarding gate' of each ride. And once the thrilling ride was over the teddy bear, or other soft toy, was awarded a commemorative sticker and stamp.

Barton Gardens Festival
The thrill of the Teddy High-Wire

Among the Teddy Bear Rides was a sky-wire which went from the churchyard to the top of St James' Church tower suspended beneath the Teddy Shuttle, while Teddy Oblivion saw the thrill-seeking toys also gently ascend to the top of the church tower before hurtling down into a smoke-filled chamber below. Other fun for the children was provided by a device that catapulted their soft toys towards a safety net 20 metres away, and a much gentler high wire ride, while Barton Village Pond was home to boat rides especially for toys using a radio-controlled boat.

Barton Gardens Festival
The Barton Belle offered a relaxing boat trip on the village duck pond

But this wasn't just about entertaining the children. For gardening enthusiasts there was the opportunity to see what other people did with their gardens, as well as the opportunity to buy plants for yourself. A group of Maasai warriors made a special visit to the festival on Sunday 19 June to sing in St James' Church and also provide cookery demonstrations as well as sell their traditional wares from a gazebo in the front garden of a house.

Barton Gardens Festival
Maasai tribesmen cooked up a treat

Refreshments of a more traditional nature could also be found at numerous spots around Barton-under-Needwood village. There were welcome teas and home-made cakes to be found in the vicarage garden, while more substantial burgers and hot dogs were being cooked up close to the duck pond, where anglers continued to fish amidst all the excitement on offer.

Barton Gardens Festival
A scarecrow reminder of the EU Referendum

And there was an added interest for visitors as a number of unusual and interesting scarecrows could be found dotted around the village, several with a topical theme such as the forthcoming European Referendum and Wimbledon tennis tournament.
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Why? Great Fun For All The Family
When: 18-19 June 2016
Where: Barton-under-Needwood, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire DE13 8AA
Cost: 5 per adult to visit the gardens
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