MUSIC and dance marked the opening of the 2013 Houghton Feast.
oung music makers from Houghton and beyond took to the stage in the town’s Broadway last night, to mark the opening of the annual event.
Friends Anth Hall, Jordan Dodds, both 16, and Laura Johnson, 19, all from Houghton, belted out a selection of rock covers as the sun went down.
South Shields schoolgirl Eve Simpson, 14, from Marsden, sang her own song – Blue Eyes (Dance With Your Daddy) – after winning a singer/songwriter competition sponsored by Houghton Rotary Club.
A panel of judges, including Frankie Francis and Dave Harper, from Sunderland pop stars Frankie and the Heartstrings, picked the teenager’s gentle lilting ballad to be heard by Houghton crowds.
There was a change of tempo as Houghton Pipe Band filled the air with skirling bagpipes.
Wearing their traditional Lamont Ancient tartan, the pipers and drummers marched to the sounds of Scotland the Brave and Flower of Scotland as darkness fell.
Piper and compere for the evening, Kevin Rilley, said: “I live in Houghton and I’m very proud of it. I think this is a fantastic event for the community that involves the community.” Entertainment at the Feast then moved to sunnier climes, as pupils from Dubmire, Newbottle, Burnside, Gillas Lane and Barnwell Close beat out a rhythm on African drums.
Then the crowds cheered and clapped as 31 dancers from Zazz Dance School swirled their sequin-clad jackets to a number from the Broadway musical, Barnum.
Mayor and Mayoress of Sunderland, Councillor Bob Heron and his wife Coun Julianna, watched the performances, along with council leader Paul Watson. The Mayor and Mayoress flicked the switch on strings of twinkling illuminations celebrating the Feast, including Houghton’s crest.
A colourful fireworks display, launched from Rectory Park, ended the evening, with the fun starting again today from 9am, with crafts for kids, the 47th annual carnival parade and a display of colliery banners.
The ancient festival, which dates back to the 11th century, will run for 10 days this year and includes a fairground, which has returned for the 65th year running and a traditional ox roasting, which takes place at 4pm on Monday.
For more information, visit www.houghtonfeast.co.uk, follow the Feast on Twitter at @houghtonfeastHQ, or visit its Facebook page, Houghton Feast, Festival of Houghton-le-Spring.