Artistic director of celebrations, Sian Thomas, hosted the event at The Slug and Lettuce pub in The Square and theatre company The River People treated the audience to a special pre-Hat Fair performance.
The event was established by Jonathan Kay and started as a buskers’ festival. It runs every year during the first weekend of July.
It is called the Hat Fair because performers pass their hats around at the end of performances for the audience to give money.
It has grown dramatically and each year the Hat Fair team strive to bring the city a culturally significant, all-inclusive programme of arts and entertainment on a local and international scale in which the audience can participate.
This year will feature artists from England, Australia, Canada and Spain.
Specially commissioned shows include Metro Boulot Dodo’s Winter, Bash Street Theatre’s The Station, and inspiring shows presented by the Without Walls consortium.
Hat Fair, which runs from Thursday July 3 to Sunday, July 6, is a member of Without Walls, a project developed by seven of the country’s most strategically significant street arts festivals to promote work from a new generation of street artists.
Sian Thomas said: “Every year the city fills with people who come from all over the place to the Hat Fair. This year we have a big show of the Friday night at River Park where the audience will be surrounded by the show and there will be singing and fire. On Saturday in the Broadway and outside the Guildhall we have got bands, street dance and a big fiesta happening and all through town on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday there will be shows around in the streets.
“On the Sunday everyone is invited to have a picnic at Oram’s Arbour.”
The Hat Fair officially starts on the Thursday with the Inside Out Citizenship and Community Project where young people explore the working world around them with drama facilitators who will encourage a dynamic dialogue between children and adults.
This year children will meet at the Hat Fair commissioned maze at Oram’s Arbour to start the Inside Out Parade and dialogue across the city’. The journey will take seven school groups through the city from 11am to the Great Hall, Law Courts, Buttercross, St Maurice Covert, Outside the Mayor’s House, the Abbey Gardens and to the second Maze and picnic on St Giles Hill.
Later in the day from 3.30 to 10.30 the city is invited to join the fun pram decorating and racing in Abbey Gardens, in memory of former city character Ron Purse.
There will be live music, a drop in puppetry workshop with the River People Theatre Company, T-shirt painting, DJ mixing, Rubicon Skate Workshop, stalls and refreshments.
Friday, July 4 sees the Hat Fair Schools procession from 10.30am and a presentation of children’s shows on the Cathedral Green.
On Saturday, July 5, the streets will be alive with site-specific shows, street entertainment and daring acts, both absurd and enchanting.
The finale will be on Sunday, July 6 and the usual picnic at Oram’s Arbour with performances, a food market, craft stalls and children’s workshops.
For more information and a full list of events visit www.hatfair.co.uk.
Source: Hampshire Chronicle | Friday 13th June 2008