For over 12 years Whitchurch Blackberry Fair has honoured its strapline line of “Daring to be Different”.

Since 2008 when local traders and stalwart friends Dave and Valerie Read proclaimed the need for an annual fair the seeds of a town celebration were sewn embraced by a passionate pursuit of bringing together the community.

The aims had been raising awareness of valuable interconnectedness with each other, the planet and the search for a fairer more balanced economy.

Whitchurch Herald: Fun and attractions from a past Blackberry Fair.

Fun at a past Whitchurch Blackberry Fair.

This may have seemed an uphill altruistic venture, yet driven by positive energy, dogged determination to overcome challenges plus shed loads of imagination and a great team has turned Blackberry Fair into one of the area’s most popular cultural events as well as nurturing a thirst for doing things differently going forwards.

More than a fair it’s originators will tell you that Blackberry is a philosophy for life based around positive action and sustainability, elements that permeate every aspect of our lives from growing vegetables on an allotment to running a market stall or reinventing old traditions for a modern age.

Whitchurch Herald: Fun and attractions from a past Blackberry Fair.

Fun at a past Whitchurch Blackberry Fair.

Spokesman Steve Chapman said: "What we do is seek out people with a story to tell no matter how quirky or personal and celebrate those who are rising to the challenge of addressing or tackling some of the big issues in society and bringing those narratives to life every year through the guise of a seasonal Street Festival where the High Street becomes one big stage.

"We’ve striven to make these stories as engaging and accessible as possible by encouraging people to be as imaginative as possible. Make someone smile and your halfway home to having a conversation."

Whitchurch Herald: Fun and attractions from a past Blackberry Fair.

Fun at a past Whitchurch Blackberry Fair.

In 2008 local 'mover and shaker' Clare Bellingham returned to her roots promoting the need for allotments.

Rather than a table and handouts Blackberry Fair collaborated with Clare to create an enormous allotment in the town's market hall acting as a centrepiece to Blackberry’s first fair.

Visitors quickly realised an allotment was far more than just growing cabbages.

It provided a hub for community groups and individuals to meet and to share their lives.

Whitchurch Herald: fair

Fun at a past Whitchurch Blackberry Fair.

It’s from that first venture that Blackberry’s creative investment blossomed wrapping wildlife gardens around music stages, orchards, fairtrade village scenes to flying astronauts and automated elephants on the street.

Steve added: "We’ve always believed if creative investment is to make a difference then it needs to be pursued with quality at its helm.

"Some of the acts we’ve booked are often the preserve of much bigger towns yet they’ve played on the High St in Whitchurch. Popular Manchester band Mr Wilsons Second Liners in 2018 received more social media hits than anywhere else they’d ever played."

Whitchurch Herald: Mr Williams will be performing at Blackberry Fair

Mr Wilson's Second Liners.

While remaining a volunteer led project the fair still raises in excess of £25,000 every year ensuring all professional and semi professional artists are paid properly in the knowledge that their talents and skills are valued.

Steve added: "The wonderful fallout from this is that local poets, musicians and all other practitioners who get involved also receive the same respect and level of professional support from the fair.

The future looks bright for this much-loved civic celebration, beloved by artists and the community alike.

Whitchurch Herald: Fun and attractions from a past Blackberry Fair.

An astronaut takes to the skies.

"A big chunk of the fair's character is its attention to detail from its colourfully alternative signage to Sofas on the Street, the Old Stinker Cheese Race or commitment to making sure all our collective Street waste is recycled properly," said Steve.

"Everything is there and done for a purpose and all crowned by an end of day Street Dance called The Carnival of Plenty.

"Who else parades an old brass bed along its high street handing out apples? It’s about tradition which we believe is a vital part of our picture. It’s about creating a reason to bring people together."

Whitchurch Herald: Fun and attractions from a past Blackberry Fair.

Fun at a past Whitchurch Blackberry Fair.

Steve said the fair was for celebrating the spirit of coming together.

He said: "It’s not always about producing beautiful art, filling the street with as many people as we can or seeking perfection it’s simply about investing in the energy and spirit of people coming together, putting their differences to one side and celebrating a vision of a world where we take stock of things around us and start to show each other we care and can change things for the better.

Whitchurch Herald:

Fun at a past Whitchurch Blackberry Fair.

"It’s about putting smiles on peoples faces, having great fun and moving forwards imaginatively with a light footprint so future generations too can enjoy and share our beautiful world and at the same time enjoy a great street festival."