Sunderland Festival brings in thousands

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AFTERNOONS filled with fun and fitness brought in a crowd of thousands to a free celebration.

Herrington Country Park played host to a weekend of events for the Sunderland Festival, showcasing up and coming musical talent to future stars of sport.

Youngsters taking part in a Hoola Hoop Challenge at Herrington Country Park during the weekend's Sunderland Festival.

Youngsters taking part in a Hoola Hoop Challenge at Herrington Country Park during the weekend's Sunderland Festival.

Sunderland Live laid on the celebration on behalf of Sunderland City Council, with families invited to try out skills from hula hooping and rowing, to circus skills and strength in a tug of war.

The event has evolved from the Kite Festival and Friendship Festival, which were held at the Northern Playing Fields in Washington, with kite making and flying included in the revamped programme’s workshops.

The Bunker, in Stockton Road, also staged live music, with performers entertaining people as they picnicked on a giant rug or relaxed in deck chairs.

Among those to try out gym equipment were Jack Rushworth, eight, and sister Grace, six, from Biddick Woods, who are pupils at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Penshaw, and who visited the festival on Saturday with dad John, and grandparents David and Avril Rushworth, both 66, from Hetton.

Avril said: “It’s good for the kids and they’ve been able to find out how to keep fit and enjoy themselves.

“They’ve tried the football shoot-out, hula hooped and the tug of war, and they really enjoyed that.”

Jack also took part in a football game as part of the Fast Feet side.

Accountant Chris Rogerson, 35, wife Kimberley, 33, a nurse at Sunderland Royal, and their daughter Charlotte, four, from Doxford Park, enjoyed putting treats from the food stalls on the field to the test as they took a rest on the picnic mat.

Chris said: “We’ve been coming for a while now and it’s great. We’ve been around the fair and looked at the circus skills.

“We’ve been making our way around the park and having an ice cream.”

Jessica Regnart, Sunderland Live’s creative development manager, said: “We’ve had lots of people here and some have brought their own picnics and had them on the mat, which was commissioned last year and we’ve brought that out again.

“It’s all free, except for the rides, and it’s really great to see people trying out what’s on.”

Healthworks, from Easington Colliery, was also among the exhibitors on Saturday, giving youngsters a chance to try a miniature gym and take up the offer of a week’s free taster at the centre, with Washington Arts Centre and wildlife campaigners among those with stalls in the marquee.

The event’s programme has been developed since it played host to the 2012 Olympic touch relay and built on the success of the Kite and Friendship