Saturday, and the Festival starts officially, though the official opening by the local MP doesn't happen until 1:30pm. Perhaps he just can't get up in time. Contrary to expectation, the rain, which started at around 9:00am, stopped at about 11:00, and, by the time Grace and I got out to see it all, things were almost in full swing, and the weather was OK.
We did a tour of the stalls first - several charities, CRT, IWA, RCR, crafts, clothing, "traditional" sweets which turned out to be a modern version of traditional. And there was a cheese boat and a jam and chutney boat, and a boat selling maps and other navigational aids for boaters.
Our lunch came from the Indian Street Food stall, Chicken tikka wraps, very tasty, equally difficult to eat. Other days, we tried crèpes - cheese and mushroom, and "posh veg". Really good food, all of it.
The entertainment in the marquee was day-long. Our favourites were The Chase Jazzmen playing trad jazz very competently, the Walsall Academy of Dance, children who performed with great enthusiasm and not a little talent, The Harvesters, a bluegrass ensemble, also very talented, Martin Francis, a solo folksy singer/guitarist, and the Somerville Gentlemen, who played a range of styles.
Other attractions were a fairground organ, a downscaled steam traction engine, birds of prey to handle, vintage and classic cars, a digger to drive (kids only, I was sorry to discover!) and a strolling bagpiper whom we didn't find very attractive at all.
Saturday's evening entertainment was a 4-piece band called Duchess and the Dukes who played 2½ hours of songs from the 60s to 80s. They were very good, though rather let down by the sound engineer, and by the large numbers in the audience who didn't realise that the word "audience" has a lot to do with listening, and who spent the evening shouting at each other over the band's sound system. It was just as well that the system was loud! We sang along.