Written by Stephen Rich, Treasurer of Lowedges Community Festival.
It all started in the year 2000. I was living in Heeley and became involved in the local groups who ran the big festival event each June. Eventually I became the chairmain of Heeley Festival, working with Maxine Bowler and John Mccorney from Heeley Farm and Heeley Trust.
After meeting my wife Julie and moving to Lowedges I joined the Greenhill/Bradway tennants association and a few years later became SEC until retiring in 2019. I also joined the Friends of Greenhill Park and became chair person.
After joining the tennants association (TARA), I suggested organising a local festival. I spoke to Mr Harry Hunter, SEC of Friends of Greenhill Park and with the help of the 2 Heeley Groups and a few other supporters, we started planing our first event. It was decided that we would hold a festival on the 2nd Sunday in August each year, which was to take place in Greenhill Park as this is a large, long, flat park with a huge circular area just inside the gate.
2009 - The first festival We got as much infomration as we could into local papers and displayed 4 large banners on the main road nearby to advertise this brand new festival. The event itself would comprise of one arena, 100 stalls, a band, dog show, a birds of prey show, a few kiddies rides supplied by a lady called Anne Tubby, a few stalls and a classic car/bike 'show' of only 1 car and 1 bike. We somehow managed to attract a crowd of 2-3 thousand on the day which, looking back was incredible. The first Lowedges festival was a success and although the day was slightly overcast everyone had a good time and we were very pleased with the outcome.
Year 2 onwards We managed to obtain the Sheffield star as a sponsor who gave us 4 free big newsaper adverts and helped us reach a much larger audience and attendance increased from 2 to 10 thousand within a few years. Going forwards, the local TARA funded the basics, and we gained more sponsors most of which are still with us and supporting us to this day. As with everything the expectations of the festival become greater and we looked at other events and found some brilliant new attractions which we added to our festival and we managed to get community grants from the national lottery to help fund the festival.
By 2016 Our classic car & bike show was, and still is, Sheffield's largest. Visitors to the festival reached 15 thousand and we found that a large majority of our visitors liked reggae and ska music so we we hired a 125ft marqee and brought in some of the top reggae/ska bands in the UK. This exceeded our expectations and now attracts over 2 thousand reggae/ska fans each year! The dog show increased in size over the years and now has its own arena. From 2012 we also gained a reputation for our amazing re-enactment battles and living history, most years having knights in battle with a 1 hour show, and 'Escafeld' a famous local re-enactment arena.
People started requesting big rides, so most years (depending on funding) we offer a free large adult funfair ride and each year our local Nisa store funds a free bunjee jump for the children. Sadly with the death of Anne Tubby, we are now proud to deal with her son James Tubby who provides the festival with many free kids funfair rides to help people enjoy a low-cost family day out.
Looking back Through the years we have had many episodes to remember. One year the festival only lasted 2 hours due to hurricane Bertha. Amazing free dodgems one year, another where we had the free carousel, the free icerink and the latest being a free big wheel all the way from London.
In 2019 we set up our Lowedges Community Festival group, putting us as Sheffield's largest independent festival!
Mr Harry Hunter retired in 2018, but still on hand for advice especially about park matters.
This brand new website built by Aubern Creative in Sheffield, we thank you James.
Also a big thank you to John 'The man with the pram' from Birkhill, one of Sheffields most loved characters and who has opened our show for many years (we are even in his famous book!)
We also would like to thank SCC, The Parks Department, Louise Haigh our helpful MP, our local Lib Dem councillors, plus many more.
We are now moving on to a new chapter in our history, with much bigger and better things to come! Why not join us for the ride? More Thanks The lottery, for their huge investment in our festival over the years
SCC/PARKS DEPT for the help and awards
JG Graves Trust
Sheffield Town Trust
St Agathas Church
All the parks team, our festival group, our team of stewards.
We also like to thank the local TARA, the Greenhill Bowling Club, plus all the people who have stalls and supply us
A special thank you to: JAMES TUBBYS FUNFAIRS
Plus everyone whos made us what we are today,from the visitors to the suppliers
If we have forgot anyone we do apologise but there are so many people that help make this festival great and it wouldn't be the same success if it wasn't for you!