The late May Bank Holiday is when the annual Chester Folk Festival happens but if you are imagining the sound of strumming guitars to the backdrop
of Roman heritage you’d be wrong. The festival takes place about nine miles from Chester in the village of Kelsall. The festival is centred on the village green with four venues for performances and workshops. The beer tent features beer from two local breweries and this year there is a craft tent. Two large fields become temporary camp sites. There are longer queues at the local shop and additional income for the pubs plus a real buzz in the village with the sound of folk music pervading the air. On Tuesday morning the village will return to normal, no litter or visible signs the event ever happened.
Over the same weekend the village celebrated its ninth annual Scarecrow Trail. 54 households paid their entry fee, built a scarecrow and displayed it somewhere on their grounds, visible from the road. Armed with a £1.50 Trail (all proceeds to local school) you could follow the trail and then vote for your favourite. The scarecrows this year included Robin Hood on bended knee, bow and arrow aimed; two scarecrows menacingly perched on scaffolding; Superman jumping out of a hedge and a scarecrow perched in a very tall tree. Passing a garden gate I was surprised to see Cruella de Ville standing on the lawn surrounded by her Dalmatian puppies. There is something sinister about these surprise encounters, not a trail to do by night with a torch.
So is Kelsall a visitor destination? Of course it isn’t and the local community isn’t aiming for that. Do the Folk Festival and the Scarecrow Trail contribute to the visitor economy? Absolutely they do. The events are distinctive, well managed and deliver important visitor spend to Cheshire and the local community.