Over the weekend, over 100 stalls, events, performances and workshops were pulled together by a team of enthusiastic Monmouth volunteers, supported by businesses and other local organisations – truly a real team effort.
Highlights were numerous and included back to back performances by local people at Shire Hall, including Mayhem Youth Theatre, Savoy Youth Theatre and Sparrows Singers Children’s Choir. Children also enjoyed the bat detector walk with Monmouthshire Bat Group and there was a lot of interest in the Riversimple hydrogen cars, which were displayed in front of Shire Halll, and explained at the Savoy Theatre in a presentation by CEO Hugo Spowers. Electric vehicles owned by local people were also there for festival goers to inspect and ask questions without fear of a sales pitch.
Other highlights included the Food Zone – all Deforestation Free - where Alex Gooch gave away free pizza, and Wye Weight sold out of sweet treats and local breads. Indeed, lots of the other fantastic local producers also sold out, meaning this zone ran for 1 day, instead of two, as planned.
The Nature Zone was buzzing and the Bioblitz organised by SEWBREC was one of the main aims of the day for that nature team, where lots of local people got involved in recording Monmouth town’s local species. Monmouthshire Meadows Group supported a scything demo and a wildflower walk at Two River Meadow and, on World Rivers Day, Angela Jones taught young and old alike how to carry out water testing. At Cheryl Cummings well attended open wild garden event, ACE launched its sustainable Gardening Mentoring Scheme, where 4 local experts will help 4 local gardeners to ‘go wilder’.
Transition Monmouth bought apple pressing to the event, which was a huge success, with the juice then being offered at the ACE ‘Teas’ stand. The children spent hours popping apples in the top and turning the handle together. All the Transition projects were represented, including the Community Fridge, Plastic Free Monmouth, Friends of the Lower Wye and Benthyg (which provided so much ‘stuff’ for the festival, like tables, gazebos, games... and indeed, the apple press itself).
The Thrift Zone – had workshops galore, a popular second hand school uniform stall, T-shirt printing, amongst other things. Free homemade soup, salads and bread using local organic produce was served to all the wonderful volunteers who helped make this event happen. Without them, it simply wouldn’t be possible.
One festival goer wrote on Facebook “Today we had an amazing time in Monmouth. The ACE Monmouth Festival was brilliant. We started at the Savoy Theatre to watch a very informative and eye opening presentation by Osbaston School pupils, explaining about our effects on the rain forests. We nipped to Shire Hall where there was a display electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles too.. (of course, our scooters were by far the greenest). We stopped to have a quick chat with a very official looking Simon Jones, who had also scooted into town. The amazing Angela Jones had a quick blast on my scoot; I'm sure she enjoyed it, as she disappeared down the hill with a gleeful "Weeeeeeeee".. At the other
end of town there was a fabulous atmosphere around the old cattle market where lots of good people doing lots of good things had their stalls set out...... The pedal your own smoothie bike was a big hit.”
Another said “We've had such a busy but brilliant weekend!! On Saturday, we went over to the ACE Monmouth Festival to see a beautiful wild garden and then in the evening we did a bat walk. Sunday we spent in Monmouth at ACE Festival. My daughter read her own poem about turtles in the performance area, we helped out in the Nature Zone, made a dead hedge, learnt how to test river water for pollution, and saw the premier of an advert for new eco-business, Party Without Plastic, featuring the girls.”
The Savoy Theatre also had back to back talks all weekend. One attendee said of the joint talk by Snoap founder and Lydart resident, Lisa Hicks Evans, and Party Without Plastic, Lorraine Allman of Wyesham “I was so impressed by the two women entrepreneurs on stage – they were a tour-de-force. They presented as a two-hander, with videos and tables displaying their wares, and they put over the powerful message that succeeding in business was the aim but that they were also passionate about making the world a better place with their products.”
There weren’t many climate deniers about, but to any still out there, ACE volunteers genuinely hope you are right and they are wrong, but in the meantime, they will assume the worst and continue to work together to provide hope for Monmouth’s young people.
ACE is a Monmouth Town Council Partnership and received funding from other groups for the festival, including Wye Valley AONB and Viridor, plus some personal donations from local people.