Crowds describe community festival as "bigger and better" than ever before (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Organiser Irene Bull says community response to Chingford Village Festival has been "overwhelming"
Buy this photo Crowds gather on Chingford Green as festival gets fully underway
The Chingford Village Festival is fully underway with military displays, choir singing, Morris dancing and a variety of freshly served food, drink and delicious home-made baked goods.
As music plays across Chingford Green and in surrounding halls and venues in Station Road, children are heard giggling and screaming as they have their face-painted, eat candy floss and play of fairground rides.
A mixed crowd of young families, couples, teenage groups and older residents of all ethnicities descended along Station Road long before the festival was officially opened at midday by London Assembly member Jennette Arnold OBE.
Opening the festival, now in its twentieth year, Ms Arnold prayed for the rain to go away and said:
"It is amazing to arrive and see stalls, children and families having fun.
"She then went to thank the hundreds of volunteers including festival organiser of two decades, Irene Bull.
"We're here because people volunteer and the wonderful Irene Bull who set up this festival 20 years ago with a group of supporters.
"This is an amazing festival representing a whole-cross section of Chingford and every year it goes from strength to strength."
Visitor Barrie Flloyd, 70, of Switzerland travelled down to be at today's festival with friends from Chingford.
He said: "It is amazing to see how many people have chosen to come here over Glastonbury. Irene has done a fantastic job and it's a great atmosphere."
Many regular visitors to the festival told the Guardian they were amazed at the scale of this year's event with plenty of additional stalls, children's activities and performances.
Mother Maureen Barrell of Newbury Road and her daughter Lesley Barrell of Long Leys, both of Highams Park said the event lived up to its name of being a 'village' festival.
Lesley Barrell said: "It feel like being in a village. It's a shame it's only on once a year as it's the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
"I definitely think this year is the biggest it's ever been, there's better stalls and a lot more for the kids to do."
Performances will continue this afternoon from Britain’s Got Talent finalist Mickey Dumoulin at 2:30pm at the Oasis Roadshow stall adjacent to Chingford Green followed by Chingford's favourite's The Epping Forest Bagpipe Band at 3pm.
As the rain holds off and the sunshine attempts to break through the cloudy skies, Ms Bull said today’s turnout is tribute to the Chingford and Waltham Forest Community.
Ms Bull said: “The people of Chingford and further afield have voted with their feet today by coming out and showing their support.
“The response has been overwhelming and I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and shown their appreciation."