WHETHER you're under five or in the U3A, Highbridge Festival of the Arts is all about celebrating community talent – and the success of the amateur performer over the honed professional.

The festival's 67th showcase of dance, spoken word, and musical skill, showed once again how vital this celebration is to Somerset, and stronger than ever.

With over 1,800 performances this year, not only were the entries in incredibly good shape across the 10-day festival, but it attracted healthy audience numbers too.

Denise Berry, festival chairman, said: "This year there have been a lot more entries than usual in the spoken word, drama and music.

"The performances have been to a very, very good standard this year, and very enjoyable to watch."

Respected dance-school founder Linda Young, who began her dancing career aged 3 at the festival, adjudicated the dance phase.

She told the Weekly News in the first week: “It was a very good standard, generally speaking, particularly in the 9 and 10 year-old age group – nice strong work coming through from those dancers, and with the duets, trios, and group sections.

“The highlight was the final class on Sunday night, with the senior cabaret, which was very entertaining. One of the groups scored a Gold Award, with 90 out of 100 marks.

“It is a fairly rare thing in my experience.”

Bristol-based spoken word adjudicator, Rebecca Thompson, said: "I was very impressed.

"There are a lot of state schools involved, and it's a huge commitment on the part of the teachers to get them involved in something like this, because it's not part of the national curriculum, so it was wonderful to see."

While experienced music adjudicator, Rachel Greenwood, added: "It was all very well organised, very friendly, with plenty of community support, and lots of variety from beginners to advanced, from the singing to the instrumental groups.

"I would also pick out the parent and child class – that was lovely – and also the non-competitive beginners' class, which is also a lovely idea."

  • TO be a part of the festival as a volunteer, call Maureen Phillips on 01278-780615 or email info@highbridgefestivalofthearts.org.uk