Jelly in your wellies – lots of silly fun as kids run their own festival

The youngsters of Farnham are having a ball raising money to save river meadows as a public space

The kids are all right. More to the point, they're in charge. With adults already booking their tickets for the summer festival season, pre-teens as young as five are planning their own big outdoor weekend, complete with foot wrestling, a custard slide, a tantrum contest and a jelly fight.

Believed to be the first festival designed by children for children, Kidsfest will entice thousands of youngsters to the Surrey market town of Farnham in September with the promise of more than 100 wacky activities, from a chocolate-eating contest to crayfish racing. All have been dreamt up by an organising committee of 12 children, which includes a "lost adults co-ordinator" and a "head of tigers".

There is a serious ambition behind the silliness, however: the community hopes to raise money to keep the 34-acre site that will host the two-day festival for the town.

The owner of the local newspaper, Sir Ray Tindle, bought Bishop's Meadows on behalf of the community in 2009 to save it from the threat of development. A trust was established to raise the £210,000 needed to repay him and devise a plan to restore the river meadows. It hopes the festival will raise at least £85,000. It has already raised £80,000, but has to find £130,000 by February next year.

Daniel Moran, 12 tomorrow, is project manager and led the kids' first committee meeting last weekend. He said: "The meadows are an amazing place for wildlife, and the river has kingfishers and fish that need to be kept there. For Farnham to own the meadows would be really good."

The Apprentice fan used his computer skills to devise a PowerPoint presentation to show his team. He said: "I do like to make sure everybody is listening and that I am not being ignored. All of the children are younger than me, so it is harder to get their attention... It's a change from being told by adults what to do and when I have to do it."

Daniel's nine-year-old sister Maddy, head of photography and silly stuff, admitted it was a "bit annoying" that her brother was her boss. But she added: "I thought it would be quite nice to be part of everything because lots of people are and it's really fun."

Their mother, Emma Selby, founding member of the Bishop's Meadows Trust, said organising the festival was boosting the children's confidence and creativity. "We were really surprised when we asked the children what they wanted," she said. "We expected them to come up with hi-tech ideas; actually they wanted to fill wellies with jelly and walk around in them, really unusual ideas.

"Children respond very, very well to responsibility and also adults listening to them. I think it's almost something new to this generation, because when I was a child, adults didn't listen to children half as much."

There are 4,500 tickets on sale for each day. No adults are allowed unless they are accompanied by a child. The lost adults co-ordinator, Oscar Collins, seven, does not expect many grown-ups to visit his tent. Other committee members include five-year-old Cicely Woodyer, the self-appointed head of tigers, and Gillan Westley, nine, assistant project manager and Lego specialist. Yesterday, they launched a free Kidsfest Club to meet every Saturday to prepare stalls for the event.

Alex Scrivens, adult Kidsfest co-ordinator, said: "Eventually, I'd like to see this festival be more and more run by children. Because it's the first year, the grown-ups are going to have to do more than I would like.

"What I want is children to come to this festival and think: 'I would like to run that stall next year', and we will work much more closely with the schools. We want to bring back conkers, silly things, and all those things people don't do any more because they are becoming so fenced by health and safety."

Emily Wheaton, eight, head of choreography and assistant photographer, was unavailable for comment as she had to go to Brownies.

Committee woman

Ella Woodyer, nine, is graphic designer on the Kidsfest committee.

Eye for detail

Theo Woodyer, seven, holds the position of graphics consultant.

Mr Secretary

Austen Wall, 11, is the committee's secretary as well as being graphic designer and in charge of logistics.

Ideas man

Daniel Moran, who turns 12 tomorrow, is project manager and ideas specialist.

Lego man

Gillan Westley, nine, is assistant project manager and Lego specialist.

Strictly snappy

Emily Wheaton, eight, is assistant photographer and choreographer.

Silly portfolio

Maddy Moran, nine, is head of photography and silly stuff.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?