Ideas abound for new English Fest in London

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A fish-and-chips cookoff and an English dog show are just two of the ideas on the table as the London Business Council, an affiliate of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, continues to plan for a new festival in London.

The group met Dec. 13 to piece together a list of possibilities for food, entertain-ment and activities for the city’s first English Festival, set to take place some-time in 2008. They used the Dublin Irish Festival as a guide.

"We want to create a festival atmos-phere, not a carnival," said Sean Hughes, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. "We are looking to restaurants and non-profits to be the food vendors. There will be no rides and no carnival food. We want to keep it local."

Hughes used the Apple Festival in Jackson, Ohio, as an example of an event that once had a strong local foundation, but lost attendance when it moved to using more outside vendors in a carnival atmosphere.

The theme for the English Festival will play off of London’s namesake in Britain. Possible activities include an English garden show, a soccer tournament, an English storyteller, an English bike tour, and a petting zoo featuring animals typical of the English countryside. Madison County’s master gardeners and area garden clubs could help with the garden show. The Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails could help with the bike tour.

"We’d also like to work with the Madison County Arts Council to put on a funny theatrical presentation that is English-oriented—something lighthearted and fun," Hughes said. "An English music festival with groups who do songs from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and other British bands is another idea."

The fish-and-chips cookoff could be an invitational, open to local entrants as well as establishments in Columbus like the Rusty Bucket and Old Bag of Nails, said Hughes.

Festival organizers also are kicking around the idea of having industrial arts students at Tolles Career & Technical Center or London High School build a replica of the London Bridge.

The London Business Council’s next meeting is set for noon Jan. 9 at the Gin Mill, 31 W. First St. Anyone interested in helping to organize the English Festival or promote London businesses may attend. Membership in the Chamber of Commerce is not required. For more information, call the Chamber at 740-852-2250.

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