Despite the confusingly juxtaposing title, the very uncountryside-ish London Borough of Lambeth pulls off its annual country show with great aplomb. And they have been doing so for forty years now!
In keeping with traditional country shows there are plenty of livestock, chickens, turkeys, sheep shearing, falconry, and organic food and plant stalls to make one feel suitably ruralised (and at times bemused), but there is also a whole lot more on offer in Brixton’s Brockwell park over the weekend. One can attend workshops for everything under the sun from theatre and yoga to journalism and baking. There are stalls selling food, drinks, sweets, ice creams, plants, clothes and more. And for the thrill seekers there are funfair rides galore.
The weekend’s entertainment line up is what really draws the crowds in though. The spectacles in the main arena range from the educational (fire brigade demonstrations), to the entertaining (dog and duck shows and owl displays), to the downright bizarre with its lively jousting competitions by the Knights of the Dammed and Joseph’s amazing racing camels. Both of which really are rather amazing.
The live music on the main stage is another crowd pleaser. As would be expected in a community with a large West Indian population, the music on offer at the show is loud, lively and largely reggae and afro orientated. This year the top acts were the big-voiced American R&B singer Jocelyn Brown, Bristol-based reggae outfit Black Roots, and most anticipated of all (but sadly rained off due to monsoon-esque deluges on Sunday afternoon) Aswad, one of the UK’s top reggae bands of the 80s.
The weekend was a scorcher, somehow managing to bypass all the thunderstorms forecast on the Saturday, and the crowd loved it. There was sunburn aplenty and lots and lots of lethal strength Chucklehead cider, making the day a raucous and colourful affair.
Sunday started off promisingly with a similarly hot climate and line up to match. Aswad had brought many fans and were due to close the show at around 5.30 but alas it was not to be. All the rain that had been forecast all weekend and never materialised fell in what many were saying was the most rain they had seen in their lifetime! The monsoon came to Brixton in spectacular form. Chaos reigned and the event ended in an all out evacuation of the site after the sound system blew with its soggy revellers piling into the nearest shelter that supplied booze – Hootananny. The floor immediately resembled an ice rink and the women’s toilet was filled with shivering ladies wringing out their dresses and desperately trying to dry their hair under the hand-dryers.
A dramatic end to what was a fantastic weekend with nigh on perfect weather until the finale. Shame about Aswad but I think all who attended would agree that the Lambeth Country Show exceeded itself on its 40th anniversary. Bring on next year I say!