Pumpkin Festival at Margaret Wright Community Orchard

Historyworks joined up with community organizations for the Pumpkin Festival on Wednesday 26th October at the Margaret Wright Community Orchard, off Whitehill Road.  Abbey People hosted the event in partnership with ChYpPS, Historyworks and Cambridge Sustainable Food for a celebration of all things Autumnal. 

We spent weeks preparing the Abbey Meadows Primary Choir to perform their songs about the local area and we provided table-top arts and crafts!  

The  theme for Historyworks was 'Music and Modelling'.  And as soon as we arrived at the Orchard, a hidden gem, with a magical 'secret garden' feeling, we were surrounded by children wanting to get busy with making.  Even the Mayor was an early visitor, pictured here with some of the children with our puppets.

It was a fantastic atmosphere, and lucky we came early, because as soon as the event started at 2pm with the pumpkin cooking lessons freely provided by local chef Sam Dyer with her colleagues at Sustainable Cambridge, there were families arriving who had not signed up for the cooking who were keen to enjoy strolling around the wee orchard and then getting stuck into pumpkin related activities!

You can see what fun the children had putting their heads through the pumpkin outline.  The Mayor joined in too, and below there is a great photo of the Mayor and Helen Weinstein, Director of Historyworks:

For the table-top arts and crafts activities, Historyworks chose making moveable puppets and stick puppets!  For younger children, we had stick puppets of flying Pterosaurs which they beautifully coloured, and we could tell them the stories of Coldham's Common in Juraissic times when flying lizards soared over this area of Cambridge.

The moveable puppets were suitable for the older primary children and young adults helped too, because they required a lot of concentration so took children a good 30 minutes to complete.  The choices were a pumpkin, an apple, a bat, or a ghostie.  They could have up to 5 moveable parts, and for the bat, a string system, for the wings to go up and down!   We had over one hundred puppets made, and some children stayed at our craft station for over an hour, making more than one puppet.  Here is a photo of an excellent pumpkin puppet with moving arms & legs:

At 4pm the place was suddenly very busy and we could see our colleagues at other stations really crowded too! Across the way, Jade-Anne and Hillary were busy making apple decorations to hang from the trees and a massive wall poster using luminous paints which glowed stronger and stronger the darker it got! In the big marquee once the pumpkin cooking was complete, there was pumpkin carving.  A huge number of extra pumpkins had to be purchased during the course of the early evening because so many children participated. Charmingly, the children used the wheelbarrow to distribute the arrival of fresh supplies of pumpkins:

After the pumpkin carving, then it was the turn of the Abbey Meadows School Choir to sing.  Patrick Olsen had kindly offered to play guitar alongside Helen Weinstein from Historyworks who was leading the children in the programme of songs, and we had about 40 children join us to sing, including some younger siblings of our established choir members.  Cath Hart from School was with us too, so the children felt confident as they gathered in the performance area, where they performed with gusto a range of their songs, we've co-created with BBC's Horrible Histories songwriter, Dave Cohen, especially for local children to sing.  We sung songs about Cambridge scientific themes and the local area, starting with a song suitable for the orchard about Newton discovering gravity called,  'One Red Apple', and sung about the Flying Pterosaurs; about the DNA scientist Rosalind Franklin; the Tudor Horsemonger and philanthropist, Thomas Hobson; about the River Cam and the Cambridge Coat of Arms; and finished up with an enthusiastic "One Orange Pumpkin".   We had a lovely gathering of family and friends all sitting around the campfire in front of us and with the help of our laminated songsheets many of them joined in the singing too! 

After the singing, it was getting dark, so we had brought 500 candles and it was time to light up all the pumpkins. ChyYpPS had been running a brilliant camp fire activity with children toasting marshmallows, and once the music space was decorated with flickering pumpkins at the back, and a firepit at the front, the Orchard looked truly magical!    Here is the scene showing Claire from ChYpPS at the fire pit with pumpkins behind:

Everyone had a fantastic time and a huge thanks due to Lorna and Keith and volunteers from the Margaret Wright Community Orchard. It was a really happy community event and fantastic to be outside together in the Autumn!

Here is our slideshow of photos from the event, but we don't have any of the singing because we were all performing with the children, so if any one in Abbey had some they can contribute, please email to us! 

Created with flickr slideshow.
Pumpkin Festival at Margaret Wright Community Orchard