OuseFest was a fantastic, fan-packed fortnight of events, organised by the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund to celebrate the unique heritage, wildlife and landscape of the Ouse Washes. During the two week festival (20th July -2nd August), over three thousand people attended sixty events held across the Ouse Washes Landscape from St Ives to Downham Market and Chatteris to Ely. With family fun days and archaeological digs, wetland safaris and history talks, there was something for everyone.
The family fun day held at Mepal Outdoor Centre on Saturday 25th July was a great success and attracted over 350 people. Visitors had fun trying out indoor climbing, the high ropes, archery and trust trail, as well as playing on the bouncy castle, learning about barn owls by dissecting their pellets, making beautiful mosaic coaster art, watching Morris dancing, listening to fenland storytelling and taking part in the RSPB’s treasure trail.
The Environment Agency hosted another brilliant fun day at Denver Sluice on 28th July, attended by nearly 350 people. The event showcased the importance of the Denver site in protecting the whole of the Fens from flooding, and visitors had a chance to learn about the work of the Environment Agency, get up close to live water creatures, and go on free boat trips. There were rowing taster sessions held by the West Norfolk Rowing Club and a chance to see a demonstration of the Victorian Flat Earth Trials on the Relief Channel.
Elsewhere, the St Ives Riverport Discovery Day attracted hundreds of people who came to enjoy the activities, stalls and talks. Both WWT Welney Wetland Centre and the RSPB reserves held several successful and popular nature events during the fortnight. Other well attended events included all the history talks, which were filled to capacity, the Isle of Ely Churches Trail, The Fen Speak poetry workshop and the Writing The Fens literary evening organised by Topping and Company Booksellers.
Feedback from the events has been extremely positive. One local resident, Manea Parish Councillor Sally Hookway said that OuseFest “is the best thing that has happened in the Fens since I lived here. I have been to a different event every single day!”
Mark Nokkert, Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership Programme Manager said “We are delighted with the success of this year’s OuseFest and with how many people came out to explore their own back yard! We’d like to thank all of our partners and volunteers who helped make it such a great festival”
OuseFest 2016 will be held from 18-31st July next year and will be even bigger. The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership would love to hear from any individuals or organisations keen to be involved in next year’s festival.