Out in the wilds of West Penwith
, St Just
is a village steeped in mining history. However, recent years have seen its granite-lined streets transformed every July into a vibrant celebration of community arts. Though not based in any particular tradition, Lafrowda Festival
was born in 1996 and has since gone from strength to strength.
The main square and St Just’s ancient Plain-an-Gwarry space sprout stages and a seriously eclectic range of music is played throughout the day and night. Market stalls set up for the day, and impromptu street acts capture people’s attention and imagination. Similarly to its older sibling Mazey Day, in neighbouring Penzance, the highlight of this summer’s day are the colourful processions which make their way through the gathered crowds, often to the beat of Pagan-like drums.
Local children work for months with teachers and artists to produce bizarre and wonderful giant sculptures (a craft introduced to the festival and mastered by local man Graham Jobbins
, whose oversized Ali-G effigy has amused many a crowd at Glastonbury Festivals) which they proudly parade, accompanied by musicians, stilt walkers and sundry other whimsical creations. Come the evening, a torch-lit procession is held where lanterns, again made by the local children, are carried through the streets. The festivities then continue into the early hours.
In all, weather permitting, this is a thoroughly enjoyable day out for all the family – especially in the morning when the Plain-an-Gwarry is given over completely to the young members of the area with bouncy castles, games and entertainment.
photos courtesy John Stedman - Sundial Photographics