Weird and wonderful wood 2022 – what to see and what to do
4:00 PM May 8, 2022
It has been called magical, unique and wild. And now, after an enforced two-year hiatus, he’s back.
Weird and Wonderful Wood, held on the Haughley Park estate near Stowmarket, returns May 14 and 15, with, organizers say, something for everyone.
This affordable family event brings together artisans from across the country to show their love of wood in all its forms. Expect free workshops, tree climbing, spontaneous street performers, demonstrations of everything from musical instrument making to tree carving, great local food and drink , wandering musicians and an acoustic music scene.
The woman behind it all is Tarby Davenport, who this week finally received an MBE (after more than 40 years) for arts and community service.
Tarby has dedicated much of her life to supporting and creating events not just in East Anglia but nationally, having been involved in the early stages of the Glastonbury Festival, the Commonwealth Games, the London Craft Center and artist reservation for the (then) Millennium Dome.
“She’s done so much over the years and I think she’s brilliant,” says her daughter Sarah Barker, who works with Tarby on Weird and Wonderful Wood, reflecting on one of her career highlights.
“Steeleye Span had been around for a while and were doing very well in the 80s. Mum decided to book them for the Corn Exchange in Bury with Tim Hart and Maddy Prior. She didn’t know that they hadn’t performed together on stage for a while. The Corn Exchange was completely overwhelmed. Tickets sold out, but there were still queues of people walking through town. It was actually quite breathtaking!”
Continuing to talk about the creation of Weird and Wonderful Wood, Sarah says it’s a collection of all of her mother’s favorite things. “We were recently trying to determine when it started. It was over 20 years ago when mum moved to Suffolk. She found there wasn’t much to do for families and wanted to create an event that had something for every age group.
“She was a single mother and also wanted it to be affordable. This was to help keep crafts alive that would otherwise die out with modern technology. Children of crafts do not have the opportunity to see or learn, such as weaving or carving letters into wood with a chisel. The festival has also become a good platform for artists like stilt walkers and jugglers… and up-and-coming musicians. Mom was friends with John Peel and he used to tell her about new local bands and singers.
Weird and Wonderful Wood began life at the Thornham Estate, which it outgrew in five years. “Mum then approached Haughley Park,” says Sarah, “and they were really welcoming.
“It is the most beautiful site. The house and grounds are absolutely beautiful and ideal for hosting an event like ours. Woods of bluebells bloom, the landscape lends itself to craftsmen and there is a beautiful lake where the public can sit on the hill and watch performances.
Sarah says more than 150 traders will be at the festival – most of them handcrafting their wares, from wooden spoons to knives and huge tables and chessboards. “Anything that could be made of wood will be there, from small pieces to handcrafted furniture. There will also be many free workshops. You will find that once you have paid the fee at the front door, there is plenty to do.
These range from weaving willows to making lanterns and papier-mâché. “We also have things like Monkey Do, where kids can climb trees in an obstacle course made with nets. And there are silk acrobatics workshops to learn some aerial techniques.
Sarah is delighted to host acrobats, the Black Eagles, London, as well as Bridie the Tea Lady. As seen on Britain’s Got Talent, Bridie will run around the festival (on stilts) with a cart of tea and cake, making hilarious music.
Speaking of tea, and Sarah adds that there’s something to whet everyone’s appetite at Weird and Wonderful Wood. “We have a vegan cafe, hot dogs made in Suffolk, the Little Pig Bakery in Stowmarket. Alder Carr Farm will be selling ice cream. It’s a huge range. We are told that because we are careful who we come from, the food on site is much better than the average festival fare.
What are the mother and daughter looking forward to most from the event?
Tarby says there are too many aspects to mention. “But I love wood craftsmanship itself. Because I was alone with four children, that was how I made most of my money – getting wooden furniture repaired and selling it. to a dealer in Essex. [the furniture] was scattered everywhere.
This led to a lifelong adoration of wood in all its forms.
As for Sarah…” We have an amazing guy named Steve who works in a very traditional way. He takes a tree trunk and with a simple ax turns it into a beam for a house. He will make a demonstration over the weekend and you can see what he brings to life in front of you.
“I also love chainsaw carving. They’ll start with a trunk in the morning and at the end of the day it could be an angel or a bird. People will be up for hours watching them work.
“It’s the kind of festival where you want to be everywhere at once. There is something to see and do all around you. We had an incredible response from the public. They are really, really excited to see him back and to return to an event they have attended year after year and sorely missed. It’s a real party. We love him as a family. Mom has created something truly amazing.
Weird and Wonderful Wood is open from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday May 14 and from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday May 15. Admission is £12 for adults, £9 for concessions, £6 for under-12s and free for under-threes. . Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash at all times. Tickets are available at the door. Find out more at bizarreandwonderfulwood.co.uk