The Fling is the thing ; Human jukeboxes, homemade flamethrowers and half-naked frivolity... The Fling returned to Chelmsford at the weekend to turn Central Park into a mystical fairyland. First timer Peter Walker was impressed by this festival of assorted amusements Pictures: Anthony Channer
FOR just one sweltering Saturday, a relatively peaceful, pristine and ordinary city centre park was transformed into a mystical fairy- tale land of human jukeboxes, homemade flamethrowers and half-naked frivolity.
Writing as a fresh faced newcomer to the city, I didn''t think Chelmsford had it in her.
I was wrong. We've been preparing for this all our lives, joked city council events officer Anna Yates.
Well not all their lives, six months in fact. Before Saturday staff had been on site for four days converting Central Park from a child's haven - in the form of the 3foot People Festival - into an adult''s retreat.
The nappy and nursing tent, for example, became a dance tent.
The Fling Festival 2013 was twice the size of the one two years ago following a break for the Olympics.
It boasted 100 different performers and exhibitors and sold all 4,400 of its tickets.
This really is a time for the adults to forget their worries, said Anna. It's a magical festival and I don't think there's anything like this anywhere else in Essex.
Events manager Liam Rich added: It's not a hippy festival as such - we need to reflect the people that live in the area but at the same time it's about representing something a bit different.
You've got to surprise people.
Well I was surprised. Worming my way through the crowds at this mini Glastonbury, I was approached by a merry teen who asked me: Have you ever tried to dance with a half pint of Pimm's above your head? Instead of testing her experiment, I marched up to three 'outdoor puppeteers' - one of which was carrying a baby doll's head.
Everyone just keeps asking us if we're French, why are you people so obsessed with the French? said Russian-born Vladimir Culo. Upon Anna's recommendation, I made a beeline for 'Rubbish to Treasure', where revellers can make toy dogs out of cushions.
One man's rubbish is another man's treasure, shouted Jo Peacock as I introduced myself.
This is all about being a kid again and really getting into your element. When I was coming up with it, well, it just seemed like a good idea at the time. All this rubbish was just getting blown away even though it's so beautiful.
People can create the most incredible things. Jo then lit up her home-made flamethrower before parading it through the crowds, all the while being watched by Liam Rich and security. As the sun set, Jenny the Human Jukebox called it a day. The 42-year-old professional singing teacher and mother-of-three, whose real name is Helen Abbey, has memorised the lyrics to 24 songs.
Well I have a little crib sheet in case I get lost, and sometimes I just make it up - they don't notice, everyone is too busy enjoying themselves - some people actually come up to the box and shout in my face - which is all part of the show, she said.
Festival-goer Lucy Harding, 42, said: It's great to see normal people letting their hair down - I really didn't think Chelmsford had it in her either.
It's brilliant to see the lighter side of Essex - it really is like a mini Glastonbury.
And speaking of Glastonbury, Stage Two's headline act Public Service Broadcasting were fresh from their big festival show from the week before.
The twosome experiment with 1970s TV sets and backdrops of retro propaganda and educational films on stage to illustrate their alternative vibes.
Our performance is very tongue in cheek, it's nothing too serious, said band member J.Willgoose Esq, joined by his associate musician, Wrigglesworth.
As the music muted at 11pm, the organisers said they would have to spend another few days clearing up on site.
After confirming that The Fling will return next year - but not what acts they have in mind - Liam, Anna and the rest of the team will now set their sights on the 'touchy, feely' Sensation Festival on September 28.
SEE MORE FLING PICTURES ONLINE For more pictures of the colourful characters and performers at The Fling SEE OUR ONLINE GALLERY thisistotalessex.co.uk
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