By Knowledge reporters
Knowle West Fest was celebrated with an explosion of sound, colours and tastes from across the world – transporting local people to sunnier climes as the rain fell persistently outside.
From steel pan performances and Caribbean food to Chinese pop, Tai Chi and a dragon dance – the festival at Filwood Community Centre gave residents new experiences right on their doorstep.
Run by Knowle West Together – a group of local organisations working to improve the community, this was the fourth festival in the area.
Despite the far flung elements – the event was firmly on the side of home-grown talent with the theme “Proud of Knowle West”.
Makala Cheung, from Filwood Community Centre, who organised the festival says: “It was a fantastic day, everyone worked really hard and we are so grateful to all the volunteers.
“Everyone commented on how fab the main hall was all decked out and how great the music and activities were – both amount of and variety! People kept asking ‘are they local?’ and I was like ‘yes all this talent is local’… It really was an event to be proud of…”
Makala, a resident herself, performed as Kala Chng with her Chinese pop band – featuring appearances from the Bristol Shaolin Lion, fan dancers and some Kung Fu experts.
Another local celebrity of X Factor fame, Daniel Quick, took to the main stage – starting with his rendition of Elton John’s Your Song – which wowed the judges on the show last year.
Daniel (20), who first started singing at the age of nine at Filwood Community Centre’s dance and tap group, Knowle West Arts Promotion – says it helped “give him confidence” to get up in front of an audience.
Other highlights included a performance from Bristol PanSonic Steel Pan followed by a workshop to learn a song – and acoustic music from Moroccan band Karama.
But with the huge assault on the senses – there were still places to find an oasis of calm with Tai Chi, Mindfulness and art therapy in the Wellbeing zone run by ACE, Knowle West Healthy Living Centre and LinkAge.
There was also an artists’ corner from Knowle West Media Centre where people could make cushion covers from locally designed fabric, help compose a Knowle West song or do some embroidery.
Throughout the day a steady stream of families came through the doors to try out the festival’s many activities which also included a boxing ring from Filwood Boxing Club, robot making with science centre We the Curious and Circus skills with Circomedia.
Joanne Blake (36) attended with daughter Summer (5), son Clark (3) and sister Davina Blake (38).
She said: “… I’ve never been in this centre before though we live locally. They’ve loved all the activities done so far, doing the chalk pictures on the wall, he loved the boxing and they like the Circus Skills… They’ve done a brilliant job in spite of the weather.”
And Ifigenia Dobre (35) whose daughter Violeta (two) was having fun with the playdough at the Knowle West Children’s Centre stall said: “It’s really nice because there is everything for the kids and music, shops, food, information – it’s amazing.”
Stalls ranged from clothing and jewellery to stands with different organisations promoting what they did and providing activities – such as Learning Communities offering glitter tattoes and the local police giving visitors the chance to dress up in uniform.
Alice Lawrence who attended the festival with husband Phil (52) said: “I think it’s great, it’s very diverse, I like the steel band and there’s such a wide variety of different stalls and organisations local and from across the city…”
There was also a surprise visit from two suffragettes celebrating 100 years of women getting the vote.
Rose (44) and Jackie Popay (70) from Bristol Women’s Voice said they had come to “encourage people to vote and raise awareness of voting” as Knowle has the lowest turnout in the city.
But for a lot of people it was all about the music – with DJs and performances which ran into the night until 10pm.
Johnny Bevan (46) said: “I think it’s good for the community, it brings people together and things in the area are being recognised. I liked all the different music and artists doing their own personal stuff… it’s been a really good event.”
For those who attended and others who might have missed it – there will be the chance to come next year – with Knowle West Fest now firmly established in the local calendar.