A programme of magical outdoors events celebrating what’s special about our high streets is heading to Middlesbrough later this month.
The town has been selected by Historic England as one of six locations throughout the UK to host Hi! Street Fest on Saturday 29 July.
Featuring a vibrant community parade, the star of the show is a giant scooter-riding puppet named Farrah the Fox – and she’s taller than a double decker bus.
Classed as a resilient fox, Farrah has adapted to an ever-changing environment, much like our own high streets have done over the years.
As Farrah explores Middlesbrough, she will be welcomed by a large host puppet called Tia created by local residents through a series of community workshops and activities.
Tia will tell the story of the town’s heritage and will celebrate significant female figures from Middlesbrough’s past.
Taking place alongside Orange Pip Market, Farrah and Tia will begin the parade at Exchange Square, continue along Albert Road and finish in Centre Square.
Artists creating the host puppet
Over 300 people will take part in the parade including representatives from a Taste of Africa, the Dorman Museum’s Thrifty Fingers group and the Newport Community Hub, and a trio of Community Producers have been working behind the scenes to deliver carnival workshops to them.
Middlesbrough based artist, Adele Catchpole who was select as a Community Producer said, “As part of the role, I’ve undergone 12 weeks of intensive training which has allowed me to organise my own community arts events.
“I’ve worked alongside the other producers across the UK where I’ve learnt so much.
“It’s also been a fantastic opportunity to talk up the town and tell them what Middlesbrough has to offer.”
In the run up to the event, Middlesbrough art collective, Navigator North have also developed an exciting programme of workshops, activities, exhibitions and events.
They’re hosting a ‘Playful Picnic’ on Saturday 22 July in Exchange Square which aims to bring people together over a shared lunch, including an opportunity to sample a newly crafted tea – the Boro Brew.
Alongside the Playful Picnic, Navigator North are hosting The Fox & the Girl exhibition at their creative space on Linthorpe Road, The Masham.
Featuring artwork produced at their workshops and from an open call, visitors will be able to vote for their favourite piece in the exhibition, with prizes for the winning entries.
Community Producers have run a number of creative workshops in the run up to Hi! Street Fest
On the day of the parade, the town will come alive with performances, including pop-up theatre shows in a vintage caravan, a mass dance and live music from African drumming groups.
Six living bronze statues will line the route and will represent key historical female figures including suffragette, Alice Schofield Coates.
Exchange Square will be home to a Big Draw giving budding artists the opportunity to create chalk drawings in the heart of Middlesbrough’s Historic Quarter.
The festival atmosphere will continue in Centre Square with a number of independent food and drink traders on hand to feed visitors.
Hi! Street Fest takes place on Saturday 29 July in partnership with Historic England and Emergency Exit Arts. Click here to view parade route and more.
We are words: Grace Lancaster