We talk to organiser and Director of Wild Rumpus, Sarah Bird
I’ve been a fan of the Just So Festival for quite some time now, so when I heard that it’s little sister The Lost Carnival was coming to Burrs Country Park (Bury, 22/23/24/25 May 2015) I gave an enormous squeal!
We spoke to Sarah Bird, Co-Director of Wild Rumpus, the company behind these family festivals which can only be described as imagination explosions, to find out just how it all began. Sarah is pictured below (left) with Co-Director and friend Rowan Hoban.
Standing on the verge of The Lost Carnival – taking place in Bury over the bank holiday weekend – it’s quite something to think that the partnership that has become so important to mine and Rowan’s lives only came into being a few short years ago.
As we wander round the Burrs Country Park site where the event is all set to take place, telling the story of a once great carnival which strangely and mysteriously disappeared in 1915, and filled with incredible acrobatics, Balkan gypsy music, mechanical contraptions and astounding sideshows – our initial playground conversations seem a lifetime ago.
School mums and book groups
Our kids were at the same school, we were in the same book club, occasionally had lunch with the same group of mums, but we didn’t know each other that well when we decided to team up and set up a weekend camping arts festival for families.
It went something along the lines of:
Sarah ‘I’ve had an idea for a festival, where it’s all about families, playing, singing, dancing and creating together’
Rowan ‘Come on then, let’s do it.’
Rowan ‘Really. Here, I’ve already set up the website!’
Sarah ‘Really? That was quick!’
The perfect mix of cautious and ambitious
We were incredibly naïve but also (it turned out later) the perfect mix of cautious and ambitious, practical and creative.
Our first venture, the Just So Festival, began small and has since become an annual extravaganza attracting thousands of families into the wild spaces of their dreams.
It wasn’t long before we took the big leap of faith that all such adventures seem to require, giving up our day jobs as bookshop manager and science co-ordinator at MMU. Our lives became ever more intertwined, running a marathon together, if only to allow us more time to hatch up our plans.
Never let your imagination get the better of you
If nothing else I’d say the lesson of our partnership is that you should never feel afraid to let your imagination get the better of you.
One of the things we said to the audience at the very first festival was that it would be what they made it, they needed to bring their singing voices, their dancing feet, their stories and their capacity for wonder. We wanted them to feel like it was their festival and from the get go they wowed us, they dressed up, they played, climbed, sang and danced their socks off.
We are saying the same thing again with The Lost Carnival. Yes, we’ve worked our hardest and dreamed our wildest dreams in order to provide something special for them to turn up and enjoy, the real excitement, though, is the prospect that they will not only just turn up, but will do so determined to fully enter the extraordinary spirit of the event.
The Lost Carnival will appear in Burrs Country Park in Bury on the evenings of 22/23/24/25 May 2015. The carnival will be open from 4-9pm, with the audience entering on timed tickets.
Tickets cost £10 per person (under 3s go free). Carnival goers should dress for the weather, and wear sturdy shoes. Tickets are available at thelostcarnival.org.uk.
See what else Wild Rumpus are planning including details of the 2015 Just So Festival justsofestival.org.uk and an incredible opportunity to release your inner wild thing at the Whitworth in Manchester in June thebigwildrumpus.com
We’ve got a family ticket to give away for The Lost Carnival, for the evening of Friday 22nd May for two adults and as many kids as you have (that are yours!). The event runs from 4pm – 9pm.
All we want to know is if you ran away to join the circus, what would you be and why?
Pop it in the comments box below – but only one comment per person please.
Will it be Lion Tamer, Trapeze Artist or something different altogether.
So don’t be shy – tell us what you’d be?
Alison x (your 4Manchester Women Editor)
Photographs: Wild Rumpus
By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.
Competition closing date: 9pm Sunday 17th May 2015.
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THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. THE WINNER IS SOPHIE WILLIAMS.