By Connor Steel
GOSPORT HIGH STREET became a place of “colour and festivities” on Saturday afternoon with a total of 1500 people attending the “Hi! Street Fest” as organisers celebrate its success; this event seeing crowds braving the heavy showers to see a ‘free’ celebration of local heritage, culture, high streets, and the importance of people within their communities.
The main attraction proved to be a mechanical fox named “Farrah”, who stands at 16.4ft (5m) tall and was designed by Tony Mason with fabrication by artists from Emergency Exit Arts. Her visit to Gosport was organised in conjunction with Historic England as part of a national tour where she has recently seen the sights of Gloucester, Wigan, and Lowestoft.
Farrah was welcomed to Lawrence Square by a second large puppet called “Deeps”, who was wearing a traditional red beanie hat that was knitted by local community groups. He has been inspired by Gosport’s diving heritage and the blue outfit summed up this approach, giving Farrah three ‘performance-related’ gifts that showcased a range of local talents.
Performances started with a display from the Big Noise Community Band and Youth Band, who drummed out the short welcome message in Morse Code with inspiration by the flag signalling system of semaphore. A local sea shanty group then presented a new composition created by folk musician Chris Ricketts; all including lyrics based on Gosport’s past.
Dancers from the local community then showcased their versions of the “hornpipe” to conclude this event with over two hundred performers showing their talent. Yellow and blue confetti was then launched into the air to represent Gosport’s official colours; the afternoon being a brilliant showcase of the Borough’s culture, marine heritage and seafaring history.
Organisers have thanked everybody who helped make this event a huge success and have stated their delight that so many residents were able to attend. This is despite heavy rain showers and windy gusts that affected most local areas through Saturday, leading to cancellations or postponements of “community events” across Hampshire and nationwide.
Readers can explore more information about the Hi! Street Fest project and future events by clicking on the link, whilst photographs from Saturday’s event can also be seen by visiting this share page or through Portsmouth News’ special.
PICTURED BY HISTORIC ENGLAND: Farrah was the “guest of honour” in Gosport High Street on Saturday afternoon.