Sun shines on Cirencester Hare Festival launch

Jim Crawley, Jo Jamfrey, Emily Thomas and Florence Beetlestone

Jim Crawley, Jo Jamfrey, Emily Thomas and Florence Beetlestone - Credit: Archant

They have finally arrived – the Cirencester five-foot hare is here and is set to stay all summer.

The model hares, of which there will be over 40, are part of the inaugural Cirencester March Hare Festival promoted by the Cirencester Community Development Trust Ltd and were unveiled to an expecting public by local resident and celebrity designer Laurence Llewelyn Bowen on a warm sunny Saturday afternoon at the end of March.

Town Crier Tony Evans started proceedings by gathering the crowd as Laurence unveiled his decorated hare outside the Parish Church. His hare was the first of the sculpture trail set up around Cirencester and surrounding areas, creating an exciting and fun art trail.

It was then on to the Corn Hall where Countess Bathurst continued the celebrations by cutting and giving out slices of a giant four-foot cake designed to look like, you’ve guessed it, a giant hare. It was the work of Cotswolds Finest Cakes and was one of their largest, sweetest offerings this year.

The fibreglass hares have been decorated using a variety of media by schools and celebrities and some of the best artists the region has to offer. “We have a Harlequin Hare, some hares decorated in mosaic, hares in sartorial dress, one with wings, another with a hat and so many more,” explains Festival organiser Florence Beetlestone. “Cirencester is synonymous with the hare since the stunning Roman hare mosaic was found here in 1971 which is now in the Corinium Museum.

“It is wonderful to see this finally happen; it was magnificent to see the town centre a-buzz with so many families all keen to get hold of a map and join in the fun. It has been a dream of mine for many years and it will help a great cause at the same time.”

Businesses and organisations from across the region have put their names behind the project by sponsoring one of the hares. Funds raised through sponsorship and the sale of these hares at auction in October 2014 will help raise the target of £50,000 to enable the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to set up the Green Hare Churn Walkway around the River Churn in Cirencester. This will benefit the lives of local people, particularly the schools and community groups who will be involved in setting it up. The aim is to link existing parks and improve local nature areas creating a network of wild walkways around the town, particularly along the River Churn.

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The wild walkways will be a safe, natural sanctuary for people of all ages to use and enjoy. They will provide access to nature for those who are unable to get out into the surrounding countryside, improving their health and wellbeing.

Andy Lichnowski, of the Cirencester Community Development Trust Ltd says, “I’m absolutely delighted by the enthusiastic response the March Hare Festival has received from the sponsors, artists, businesses, schools and colleges, and I pay tribute to our hardworking organisers. It promises to be a fascinating festival creatively engaging across the community and encouraging more visitors and tourists to visit our beautiful town.”

Plans are already afoot to launch a smaller hare trail in May. Called ‘Hare and Seek’, this is a trail of smaller, life-sized hares that can be found in shop windows in Cirencester town centre. The smaller hares are available to sponsor for just £350, which includes an artist to decorate it also.

Small hare-spotters will collect a passport from the visitor info centre at the museum and town council info point at Bingham House. The shops then stamp the passports, and once completed your passport will be put into a prize draw.


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