The Fete is Swindon’s oldest summer event, dating back to 1866. Organised by the Mechanics’ Institution, it ran until 1939 with the outbreak of the Second World War. The tradition was revived by the Mechanics’ Institution Trust in 2003 and has run since. The most popular tradition was the cutting of the cake, a tradition which the Trust still maintains by providing a free piece of cake to all children on the day. The event has become a popular and recognisable part of Swindon’s calendar once again.
The Children’s Fete has the following objectives:
Empowerment and life chances: By organising and delivering elements of the Fete, volunteers gain valuable experience of working toward a significant event and having a sense of achievement. Children and young people attending will have the chance to participate in a wide range of activities, and to perform their activities on a public stage and arena. Attendees have the opportunity to share and increase cultural understanding. Family members have an agreeable public space and event to share, where they can reflect together on opportunities, and a chance to encourage children and young people to pursue activities which can develop their interests further during the year. Focusing this event around children and family is a means of focusing public thinking upon the importance of children and families, and the fact that they need to be actively supported by the community in finding their way in a challenging but rewarding stage of life. Local children’s charities who are present as stallholders raise awareness of their work and can reach more families in need.
Stronger community: Groups and individuals working together to deliver this event learn more about what others are doing or can do working in the community. This can inspire further participation and volunteering. For attendees, feeling good about our community is a good way to encourage people to get involved actively. The Children’s Fete is a feel-good event with deep local roots — a source of pride and local identity.
Improved urban environment: We include environmental groups in providing information and activities at the Fete. This brings visitors into contact with information and groups which they might not otherwise engage with, and whose work contributes to this outcome generally. In particular, a major aspect of the Children’s Fete since 2002 has been consulting upon and demonstrating a gradually improved green and amenity provision within the GWR park itself, which was massively neglected in recent decades. This is an on-going aspect of the annual Children’s Fete programme, and this evolving project inspires constructive participation in the efforts of the hands-on “Grassroots Gardeners” scheme.
Healthier and more active people: Leisure and health services staff are involved in running sports activities on the day, and also hold information stalls advertising their ongoing activities. The circus and sports activities provide excitement but also encouragement to be and keep active.
A Children’s Fete Committee plans the event each year including sponsorship, volunteers, stalls and rides. If you are interested in the Fete please contact us.