Looking for new leadership

    Run the Wantage Summer Festival!

    We are currently looking for our new leaders.

    Please read the Leadership information pack here

    and get in touch with the Wantage Town Council for more details.


    Relevant Oxford Mail and Wantage and Grove Herald articles.



    Congratulations to KA Students for ‘Award for Community Service’

    We are extremely happy to announce that the wonderful KA students who participated in our Digital Journalism Project have received the new Wantage ‘Award for Community Service’.


    It’s a great opportunity to explain what the Digital Journalism Programme achieved in 2016. We have advertised this very new idea for the first time about a year ago and they all showed curiosity and great level of courage to spend time and effort on learning during our four theory sessions – which we know can be hard during busy term times. In just four hours they had to learn from Sylwia Korsak all the basics of social media, building online CV and portfolio and documenting events in real time. With this new theoretical knowledge and a huge deal of their own skills and aspirations (in writing, editing and photography) students went off to document Wantage Summer Festival events.  In the two weeks of their actual internship students spent time with Dr Linda Baines studying the best practices of online research, information management, online copyrights, reviewing Wantage Summer Festival website and branding too. Back with Sylwia Korsak they have learned to create their visual CV, prepare effective social media messages and learn to aggregate and collate all the content from their work in the field into a good online story of the Festival. They have also spent time at the Vale and Downland Museum learning about its operations, role in the community, role as our central location for the Festival but also supporting the Museum marketing activities. Their feedback was extremely useful both for the Museum and for us and we will take it really seriously in our planning in 2017.

    Why we did it? Well, for two reasons. On one hand we really wanted to respond to one of the main points from the 2016 community feedback on past Festivals: lack of youth engagement. By educating young people and giving them equal voice, actually allowing them to BECOME the voice of the Festival we hoped to engage more young participants, inspire youth but also inspire other local Festivals and event organisers to do the same. During our meeting with the Town Council to discuss the details of the ‘Award for Community Service’ we have been asked if other Festivals could replicate the idea and our answer was really clear: ‘We hope they would do so!’ We do hope everyone will understand the amazing potential of young people’s skills, motivations and voice in the community. And so we are really happy to see the Wantage (Not) Just Betjeman Festival starting their school engagement programme this year and we can only hope to see more and more similar ideas.

    Secondly we did it for the young people. One of the major criticism we have received in the year of organising of the Festival (but also something our Committee members experienced themselves and observed in our community) is that the volunteers in the community are very often appreciated but sometimes taken for granted and on very rare occasions disrespected. We do not think volunteering should be taken for granted so we are promoting a culture of saying a huge thanks but also providing at least not tangible rewards for all the work that is done for us. We really wanted to ensure that our Young Journalists benefit from their involvement as much as we do from their support. And so we have equipped them with life skills that they themselves found invaluable. We have provided them with references that might just inspire them to persevere in their passions and turn those into actual professions. We hope that our references will help them open the doors to their first jobs. For that very reason we have invited Pete Hughes from the Wantage and Grove Herald for the final day of our programme and we were very pleased (we did not plan it, we promise) that he expressed his full support to help each and every one of them in the future as much as possible.

    We hope that with the help of the wonderful individuals and organisations involved we have given the young people all they need to understand the value of their potential. And so we welcome the Town Council Award as a huge acknowledgement of those Festival goals and of students personal perseverance.

    On behalf of the Wantage Summer Festival we would like to congratulate the recipients of the Award for their courage to take part in the Festival’s Digital Journalism project and thank them for their dedication, effort and brilliant results. We would also like to thank the KA Academy, Vale & Downland Museum, Pete Hughes, Wantage Youth Council and Wantage Town Council for their support of this innovative idea which will hopefully help those young people shape their future in online journalism. We would also like to thank all our Festival organisers who supported our students in their work in the field.

    Do make a note of their names: Bryony Gooch, Chloe Aston, Mia Collins, Natasha Doxey, Yasmine Felder, Taylor Brittain and Boris Buklanov as we are sure we will here more from them and about them in the future!

    Thank you.

    Read this story int he local press here and here.

    (featured image by one of our Digital Journalists, go to our Facebook fan page to see all their social media visuals)


    Your feedback

    Thank you to everyone who made time to participate in our feedback meeting last night. Here is what we have talked about:

    1. Ticketing – we did not have a lot of comment about this;
    2. Insurance for open air events was mentioned – we explained that in the past organisers were asked to provide it but we are still investigating all the options;
    3. Festival fatigue – do people get tired of events at some point? We have noticed a very low attendance for some events, despite of advertising and personal networks of organisers – something to address in 2017?
    4. Art in the Park – it would be nice to have more students for the event – in 2016 event was open to the KA students only, can this be a limitation?
    5. Maybe we should have less events but focus more on their support and promotion? Do we scale back a bit?
    6. We need to help organisers with careful scheduling of events to avoid running many events at the same time – if possible
    7. Some people might still not know about Wantage Summer Festival – how can we reach them? One suggestion was to reach out to community influencers;
    8. Some people are not committed to come to an event until the actual day of it – how can we address it?
    9. We need an opening event – possibly in conjunction with the Town Council too (their idea of #WantageFest?), we also need a closing event;
    10. Programme – can we please send it out before print to all organisers for proofreading?
    11. Press passes – are a good idea but let’s make sure photographers actually come to the event;
    12. Can we have a creative writing workshop for children?  – how does relate to other local Festivals?
    13. Can we consider the past idea of collaboration between community groups?
    14. Can we consider Festival core events and an idea of fringe events?
    15. We need to improve signage and find solutions for common challenges – banners on crossings are actually not legal, how can we address this?
    16. Overall consensus is to keep the Festival within the current time frame or similar one: June and July.

    As you can see most of the feedback, which also includes points from our online survey, leaves a lot of unanswered questions. We will now look at those and work on solutions in 2017.

    Thank you for making it YOUR Wantage Summer Festival!


    Our Digital Journalists meeting local press

    Our Digital Journalists (Internship programme hosted in partnership with King Alfred’s Academy) have been working really hard this summer learning the theory but also practice of their future profession. On the last day of our programme, we have invited Pete Hughes from the Wantage and Grove Herald to talk to us about the way media outlets operate in our area and about his journalistic path. Students came out of this meeting inspired but also encouraged to send their stories to the local press. Thank you to Pete for his time and to Suzie from the Vale and Downland Museum for her support with the venue for this meeting.



    Festival Opening this weekend

    This Saturday, Manor Park & this Sunday, Market Place

    Please join us for our Festival opening in the Manor Park this Saturday at midday. We will be setting up stalls, acts and activities from 9am so come over and enjoy your Saturday with us.  Don’t forget to bring your dog for our Dog Show competition!

    Our first Festival weekend and #WantageQ90 (Wantage Celebrates Queen’s 90’th Birthday celebrations) will continue on Sunday in the Market Place.

    We hope to see you all there! It has been a long 18 months of preparations and we cannot wait to start our 2016 Festival!

    Please support us by posting your updates and photos with #WantageSummerFest and #WantageQ90 hashtags, but also by talking to our digital journalists and photographers present at the event (you will recognise them as they will have our official press badges on).

    Images from Wantage Summer Festival events from last weekend: The Flower of the Quern at the Vale and Downland Museum and Open Gardens in Priory Road.

    Wantage Summer Festival events to enjoy in the next 7 days:

    10 June

    Folk for MS Ceilidh (Warm Up Event)

    11 June

    Make your own flags and crowns

    High Level Art
    Coffee morning, books and plant sale
    Hendreds Primary Schools Fair
    Wantage Hosts The Queen’s 90’s – Festival Opening
    Wantage Bowling Club Open Day
    12 June

    Display of School Art – Springline Partnership with Schools

    Hendred Street Party and Pram Race
    Queen’s Birthday Family Craft Day at the Museum
    13 June

    Coffee and blogging meetup

    Build Wantage in Minecraft at the Grove Library
    Wine Tasting Evening at The Lodge
    14 June

    Bowls Match

    Circular Guided Walk
    15 June

    Wantage Art Group Meeting

    Wantage Ghost Walk (sold out)
    Zelda’s Jazz Room at the Comrades Club presents Pete Allen’s Reeds and Rythm
    The Pavlova Wind Quintet
    Cocktail Happy Hour
    16 June

    Umami Tutored Cheese and Wine Evening

    Lost Pubs of Wantage
    La Fille du Regiment’ – comic opera performance
    A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    Summer Fair

    You have raised £620 for our community – thank you!

    We are extremely happy to share with you the great fundraising news – thanks to all your support and the amazing Waitrose scheme we have raised £620 for our Festival.

    We are very keen on developing our programmes and building on all the work from our last 18 months so we will be keeping you all informed on how we intend to spend this money.

    For now we are celebrating the fact that so many of you decided to support us this way.

    We are all volunteers so acts of kindness and support like this motivate us to do even more for our local community, thank you so much!


    Get involved as a volunteer!

    Thank you for offering to help Wantage Summer Festival 2016!

    We really appreciate this and we understand that you might have limited time and resources so we have decided to list all the areas we would really need your help with.

    Please remember that every little act of support helps us and we are extremely grateful for all your support.

    In June and July we need help with:

    – Distributing programmes between now and the end of the Festival (which runs from Saturday 11 June – Sunday 17 July)

    – Distributing other promotional material, such as posters

    – Manning the WSF stall at the opening weekend (Saturday 11 June and Sunday 12 June) – please email us or add your name here,

    – Manning the WSF table in Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage on Saturday mornings – please email us

    – Helping with promotion in our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter – please like, comment on and share our updates to help the reach of our messages

    – Documenting our Festival events – if you are attending any events and happen to have photos or would like to write a blog post for us, please get in touch

    After 2016 Festival:

    We will also need new ideas, fresh external perspectives when we review the 2016 Festival in September and in planning and organising Wantage Summer Festival 2017.

    What can we offer in exchange:

    We can offer you new skills, experience, new friends, new contacts and our network.

    If you’re interested in helping us, (no matter how little time you can spare), please reply to this email at wantagesummefestival@gmail.com saying how you’d like to help and when, and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as possible.


    Get involved in 2016 Festival events!

    Next Thursday, 26.05, 7-9PM, Vale and Downland Museum

    Please join us for our briefing meeting before the Wantage Summer Festival kicks off. We are a very small team of volunteers doing our best to work on the Festival in our free time so our availability is limited – we hope that this way we can all meet and work out the remaining details of the Festival together.

    Everyone is welcome: organisers, venue representatives, businesses, volunteers, digital and other journalists, members of the public who just wish to learn more.

    Please join us next Thursday for the meeting at 7PM followed by a drink at the King Alfred’s Head at 9PM.

    We are fundraising with Waitrose – please support us!

    You might have seen us in the title of the middle box of green tokens at Wantage Waitrose.
    We are extremely happy that our fundraising application was approved and we are spending all May collecting little green tokens – please, if you are shopping or grabbing your morning coffee there, do leave your green tockens in our box.
    This will help us help you all run your amazing events!
    Thank you to Waitrose and to all of you who already supported us this way!
    Keep them coming!

    Get involved in 2016 Festival events!

    Wantage Summer Festival 2016 is almost here and you can already now get involved in many activities.
    Check out our website for online tickets to some of our eventsSubmit your LEGO creation to have it exhibited at the Vale and Downland Museum. Post a photo of your dog online with #WantageQ90 to support RSCA Dog Show planned for the Festival Opening.
    For more ways to get involved and support Wantage and the area community this summer please check our Facebook fan page and our website.

    Meet us at Vale & Downland Museum – 2016 Festival Programme arrived 

    Come and talk to us each Saturday from 9.30am to 1pm at the Vale and Downland Museum, grab your copy of our printed programme, book online tickets and share your feedback. (Bit thank you to Vale & Downland Museum for allowing us to use their space.)

    We are very pleased to let you know that our printed Programmes are now available in few central locations in Wantage and Grove. You can find them at the Vale & Downland Museum, the Beacon, Wantage Library and in many more central locations. In the next two weeks we will be distributing them to all neighbouring villages and towns too. Please let us know if you would like to have a few copies and share with your friends – we have 5,000 of them!

    We would like to use this opportunity to thank the Oxfordshire Science Festival for promoting our website in their programme which is going to spread the word about us all around the shire.