Stroud Festival of Wonder took place at St Laurence Church this weekend, featuring aerial artists, a master illusionist and even a New Orleans jazz band.
“We, as the organisers, are absolutely delighted at the turn out and response to our weekend Festival of Wonder,” said Rayelle Pentland-Smith, a member of the organising committee.
“Our main event, the circus inspired After Elijah show saw sold out crowds at all of the performances. ‘We never expected it to be so good or so professional’ was a favourite comment heard. The show was spectacular, hilarious, and wondrous – evoking everything from laughter to tears. I personally was touched to hear the words of appreciation for this free high-quality entertainment from several parents of young families,” added Rayelle.
Simon Howell, Pioneer Minister at St Laurence Church said: “This Festival is about looking up. Literally. When you walk in you will see aerial artists flying about the upper echelons of the church – alongside other magical happenings from the premium artists in the field.
“But why? Well, as we come out of the anxieties of the pandemic and head into the anxieties of the ‘winter of discontent’, we wanted to offer a free event that helped up us to look up and catch a glimpse of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. The Source of this beauty is the Fountain of Life whom countless numbers down the ages have come into the sacred space of the church to seek. Not least for this reason, we believe the festival absolutely belongs in church.”
Organisers estimate around 2,000 visited the festival, with dozens of volunteers offering their time and support – as well as the estimated 60 cakes baked for the festival.
The final performance, a Jazz Vespers Concert by Allyn Shipton and his New Orleans Friends’ Jazz Band on Sunday afternoon provided the perfect finish with an absolutely brilliant and exhilarating performance. There were people dancing in the aisles, clapping and singing along to this highly accomplished band providing a beautiful selection of traditional revivalist jazz music.
“All of the artists and production teams behind the scenes worked fantastically hard to bring this to the Stroud community. We are thrilled that people came and clearly enjoyed all that was on offer. What a weekend – we have no idea what next year brings (but welcome ideas). For now, there are quite a number of people that simply need some sleep,” said Rayelle.