Saturday was the Rochdale Feel Good Festival and it did feel good indeed.
Many stalls lined the streets with food from around the world, Music, Dance, Hula and more food – cooking demonstrations from Andrew Nutter, Aazam Ahmad, Alison Seagrave and Headliner Ainsley Harriott in the Marquee plus a 10 minute Curry Demo outside by Rochdale’s own Farooq Ahmed in the afternoon.
Market stalls snaked down the hill from Yorkshire Street to the main area on the Esplanade. In the Marquee there, star turn TV chef Ainsley performed audience-participation cooking demos on-stage. Smashing guy, much loved by the audience – later on walkabout he generously chatted and posed for photographs with with what seemed to be the entire population of Rochdale and all handled with the trademark Harriot smile. link to gallery
From 3pm music took centre-stage by the town-hall with performances from The Fellons, Doyle & the Forefathers, Ellen & the Escapades, Frankie and the Heartstrings, Badly Drawn Boy, and finishing up with Fun Lovin Criminals. A bit of afternoon end-of-summer rain did nothing to dampen the festivities.
As in Oldham the “Yes the Metrolink really, really is coming!” signs and roadworks were much in evidence but there was plenty of room for the marquee and stands right in the centre, which combined with the flow of Saturday shoppers guaranteed a pretty good, diverse spectrum of an audience. While it’s true that Rochdale has a bit more space in town for this sort of thing; it’s something that maybe Oldham could learn from. Here such events, with the notable exeception of the Halfords Cycle Tour which was by definition a town centre spectacle – tend to be held In Werneth or Alexandra park where you don’t get the same volume or mix of walk-by traffic. The lack of a central open space is the problem, but the area infront of Oldham Library/Gallery gets plenty of passers-by due to the vacinity of Sainsburys and has been used before in the Festival of Diversity or perhaps even the Tommyfield market car-park area could be pressed into service?