Never mind the weather forecast – The Sun shines on the righteous! But bring your Brollies just in case!

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HERE’S THE FULL RUNNING ORDER for this year’s Diggers’ Festival

Here’s the final running order for Saturday’s 8th Wigan Diggers’ Festival which includes our best ever line-up of entertainment alternating between our main and acoustic stages; two fringe meetings; and an educational talk on Gerrard Winstanley in Wigan Parish Church. Also, for only our second year, the opportunity to hear some excellent speakers from a range of unions and campaign groups, etc, explain what they’re about and why they’re in Wigan on Saturday, via our ‘third’ town centre ‘Speakers’ Corner’ stage.

All this of course, is in addition to a Diggers’ award presentation to Joe Solo; Diggers’ Flag unfurling; symbolic St. George’s Hill 1649 ‘digging re-enactment’ and more than 50 food, book and other stalls; all day children’s entertainment, and our ever popular ‘Occu Pie Wigan’ beer tent,


10.00 am – 11.30 am  – LOCATION – Top of Millgate/Standishgate (second session between 12.15 pm – 1.00 pm at same location)

Wigan Diggers’ Festival Speakers’ Corner

Wigan Diggers' Festival Speakers Corner

Speakers are already confirmed from a range of organisations. including the Diggers’ Festival Committee, the RMT Keep the Guard on the Train campaign, BFAWU Fast Food Rights campaign, WASPI, Frack Free & Fossil Fuel Free Greater Manchester, Unite the Union Community Membership, Morning Star Newspaper, Manchester People’s Assembly, Momentum, Peterloo Memorial Campaign, Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, Labour Party, Socialist Party of Great Britain and others.


11.30 am – 11.45 am – LOCATION – Gerrard Winstanley Gardens, The Wiend

St. George’s Hill 1649 Digging Re-enactment

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In The Wiend area, the festival will kick off as usual with a symbolic digging re-enactment in which this year, guest actor Sean McGlynn will play the role of the Wigan born radical, and repeat some of his famous words from April 1649.

As on previous occasions he and our other diggers will be accompanied by members of the Bolton Clarion Socialist Choir who will lead the singing of Winstanley’s “Diggers’ Song” and “The World Turned Upside Down” by Leon Rosselson, a song which tells the story of the 17th century Diggers, and which was made famous by Billy Bragg.


11.45 am – 12.00 noon – LOCATION – Main Stage, Believe Square, The Wiend

Official Opening of Festival & Diggers’ Flag Unfurling

A representative of the North West Regional Committee of Unite the Union, who are the main sponsors of this year’s festival, will officially open the festival before the unfurling at noon of this year’s Diggers’ Flag designed by the pupils of the Deanery High School, Wigan with the assistance of their arts teacher David Brown.

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MAIN STAGE + SONG & STORY (ACOUSTIC) STAGE at a glance (from 12.00 noon)

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Full Running Order including fringe meetings and Winstanley talk in more detail from 12.00 noon.


12.00 noon – 12.40 pm – LOCATION – Main Stage, Believe Square, The Wiend

BAND – The Amber List

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If The Amber List were furniture, you might describe them as pre-loved. This Lancashire band, formed in March 2017 in a Works Unit Only layby on the M6, has members who have clocked up many music miles between them. Peppered with harmonic interludes and touched with atmospherics, their songs range from
60’s folk-tinged ballads to indie pop.

More info at www.theamberlist.net


12.00 noon – 1.00 pm – LOCATION – Wigan Parish Church, Town Centre

FRINGE MEETING organised by COPS

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Martyn Lowe and others from the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, (which exists to help co-ordinate, publicise and support the quest for justice for people affected by politically motivated undercover police spying and to ensure such abuses do not continue) will give a talk and answer questions about how the victims of ‘spycops’ were pried upon, and the effect it has had upon a very large range of campaigners. This will include one of the women affected by long term intimate relationships with undercover police officers who have infiltrated environmental and social justice campaign groups.

More information @ http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/


12.00 noon – 1.00 pm – LOCATION – Museum of Life, Library Street, Wigan

FRINGE MEETING organised by Wigan & Makerfield WASPI (Women Against State Penion Inequality)

WASPI Fringe Meeting


12.40 noon – 1.00 pm – LOCATION – Song & Story Stage, Gerrard Winstanley Gardens, The Wiend

SOLO ARTIST – Patrick McKenzie

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Patrick is a Yorkshire born singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in Manchester. His music is made up of intricate, winding chords and powerful stories hidden in his quirky lyrics, all underpinned by his deep rich voice and a variety of instruments.

More info @ www.patrickmckenziemusic.com


1.00 pm – 1.40 pm – LOCATION – Main Stage, Believe Square, The Wiend

BAND – The Jupiter Blues

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The Jupiter Blues are a four piece, blues rock band straight out of Liverpool. Known for their high energy shows, impeccable musicianship and infectious stage presence, they wow their audience with a host of original songs and unique covers.

More info @ https://en-gb.facebook.com/thejupiterblues/


1.00 pm – 2.30 pm – LOCATION – Wigan Parish Church, Town Centre

FESTIVAL TALK – “Gerrard Winstanley from St. George’s Hill to The Law of Freedom in a Platform”

WiganParishStephen Michael Hall

Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee member Stephen Hall will give a talk and answer questions on the development of Gerrard Winstanley’s ideas from his early ‘Digger Writings’ in 1649 to his later ‘Law of Freedom in a Platform’ work, which might be regarded as Winstanley’s personal manifesto for a genuine ‘Commonwealth of England’.


1.40 pm – 2.00 pm – LOCATION – Song & Story Stage, Gerrard Winstanley Gardens, The Wiend

SOLO ARTIST – Gerry Ffrench

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Gerry’s Liverpool/Irish roots make her a wonderful performer, songwriter and recording artist of rich contemporary folk music. With their strong local flavour, Gerry’s own songs make many references to Liverpool’s maritime history while their style is firmly rooted in traditional folk and shanty. She gives a voice to the hard lives of the women left behind when the sailors went off to sea in songs such as The Other Maggie May, When The Wind Blows Up From The Mersey and Cunard Yanks, being written from the point of view of the wives and their families.

More info @ http://gerry.helloplaza.uk/


2.00 pm – 2.40 pm – LOCATION – Main Stage, Believe Square, The Wiend

SOLO ARTIST – Joe Solo

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Joe Solo is an award-winning musician, writer, poet, activist, broadcaster and washing machine engineer from Scarborough. Live, Solo has a growing reputation as both a performer and raconteur, being both thought-provoking, comical and punch-the-air political often in the same breath. He is not an artist you forget in a hurry.

We are additionally pleased to present Joe this year’s Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award for his contribution to the socialist cause.

More info @ joesolomusic.com


2.40 pm – 2.50 pm – LOCATION – Main Stage, Believe Square, The Wiend

FESTIVAL ANNOUNCEMENTS


2.50 pm – 3.15 pm – LOCATION – Song & Story Stage, Gerrard Winstanley Gardens, The Wiend

POET – Sharon Lowe

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It seems there’s nothing Diggers’ Festival Committee member Sharon can’t turn her hand to, and today it’s an appearance as one of our three poets on our Song & Story Stage.

POET – Robin Welsh

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Robin Welsh is Hull born, residing in Oxfordshire. Robin is a published poet, political activist and active campaigner for human rights and feels strongly about the abuses and intolerances within society. Everybody needs a voice and he raises issues that bring those who are silent and downtrodden to the fore delivering honest, poignant and often brutal spoken word with passion.

POET – John Wilmington

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John is a regular performing poet on the North West open mic scene mixing romantic verse, political commentary and classical style poetry.


3.15 pm – 3.55 pm – LOCATION – Main Stage, Believe Square, The Wiend

BAND – Barnstormer 1649 (featuring Attila The Stockbroker)

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Although there’s always been an element of music in his set, 2018 is the year when spoken word performer, songwriter and multi- instrumentalist Attila the Stockbroker prioritises his musical side for the first time after 37 years and over 3000 gigs primarily working as a poet. He’ll be touring all over the UK with his unique band Barnstormer. A description not used lightly. They literally don’t sound like anyone else. Barnstormer aim to do with early music & punk what the Pogues did with Irish music & punk. Attila describes their sound as ‘Roundhead Renaissancecore and Baroque ‘n’ Roll’.

More info @ attilathestockbroker.com


3.55 pm – 4.20 pm – LOCATION – Song & Story Stage, Gerrard Winstanley Gardens, The Wiend

SOLO ARTIST – T. E. Yates

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Unassuming, unusual and enigmatic, T. E. Yates is a multi-disciplinary Wigan-raised artist of rare and disarming qualities that must be seen and heard to be believed. Quoted as being a “modern day Woody Guthrie mixed with a little Bob Dylan and a little Tom Petty, creating socially charged commentary with a rockier folk sound” he writes about a plethora of real world problems.

More info @ teyates.com


4.20 pm – 4.30 pm – LOCATION – Main Stage, Believe Square, The Wiend

FESTIVAL ANNOUNCEMENTS


4.30 pm – 4.55 pm – LOCATION – Song & Story Stage, Gerrard Winstanley Gardens, The Wiend

SEX PISTOLS/HOUGHTON WEAVERS MASH UP – Bard Company

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The North’s answer to the Young Ones! In yer face poetry, music and comedy with a socialist edge from the oldest boy band on the circuit. Let Rocky, Punky, Cheezy and Bolshie tickle your political funny bones.

More info @ whiteleyian.wixsite.com/bard-company


4.55 pm – 5.35 pm – LOCATION – Main Stage, Believe Square, The Wiend

The Commoners’ Choir

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The Commoners’ Choir is a rag bag assortment of ne’er-do-wells, misfits, and troublemaking cake-eaters who have come together from all corners of the globe to sing harmonious insurrection, to rouse the rabble and to raise a smile or two. They are a singing newspaper: singing about stuff that happens, stuff that should be happening, stuff that matters. Their songs and arrangements are written by Boff Whalley, songsmith for the likes of Chumbawamba and Red Ladder Theatre, with inspiration, input and interjections from choir members.

More info @ commonerschoir.com facebook.com/commonerschoir


5.35 pm – 6.00 pm – LOCATION – Song & Story Stage, Gerrard Winstanley Gardens, The Wiend

BAND – Rare Oul’ Times

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Headed by Lawrence Hoy, the band combine traditional Irish folk music with Lawrence’s own original material. Lawrence won the Diggers’ Orwell-inspired songwriting competition in 2017.


6.00 pm – 6.40 pm – LOCATION – Main Stage, Believe Square, The Wiend

Brandon Lee Webb Band

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This collective of talented musicians play mainly original material whose influences include Van Morrison, John Martyn and The Doors. They are regulars on the local music festival scene and have recently played at Strummercamp.

More info @ www.facebook.com/BrandonLeeWebb


6.40 pm – 7.05 pm – LOCATION – Song & Story Stage, Gerrard Winstanley Gardens, The Wiend

BAND – Eliza P & The Disco Misfits

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Eliza P started off in Manchester’s underground music scene many moons ago, through punk, reggae, rock and psychedelia. Later she becaame known on the folk circuit for her irreverent observational songs. She joined forces with Tony Oz, Damian Browne & Derek (Delvis) Thompson who have a wealth of musical history between them. Together they play gigs and festivals and have a right good musical time! Expect a bunch of themes: badgers & foxes, Jeremy Kyle, trams, Wetherspoons, School history lessons, fracking, bonkers stuff that goes on in the world, from funny to not funny in a punky-folky style!

More info @ www.facebook.com/EPandtheDMs


7.05 pm – 7.45 pm – LOCATION – Main Stage, Believe Square, The Wiend

BAND – Wigan’s very own

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As proud purveyors of energized folk-rock and original songs, award-winning NW band, festival favourites Merry Hell bring their uplifting, joyful music to the Diggers’ main stage once more.

More info @ www.merryhell.co.uk


7.45 pm – 8.15 pm – LOCATION – Song & Story Stage, Gerrard Winstanley Gardens, The Wiend

BAND – Joe Astley & The Back Pages

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Joe Astley is a fast rising musician and singer-songwriter, bringing a poetic folk-rock style and sound to the stage and was very well received on the acoustic stage in 2017.

More info @ www.facebook.com/backpagesofficial


8.15 pm – 8.30 pm – LOCATION – Main Stage, Believe Square, The Wiend

FESTIVAL ANNOUNCEMENTS


8.30 pm – 9.30 pm – LOCATION – Main Stage, Believe Square, The Wiend

TheBlockheads

Starting out as the band behind Ian Dury, the Blockheads are a legendary outfit that has grown in stature from the early days of the Stiff tour in 1977, right up to the present day. Backing up Ian Dury’s poetic lyrics, this is the band that brought you ‘Hit Me with your Rhythm Stick’, ‘What A Waste’, ‘Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)’, and ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’, among many others. Rarely off the road since the demise of Ian Dury in 2000, but now with Derek Hussey fronting the band, The Blockheads are still one of the most underrated British bands of all time, with a legion of fans of all ages. See full feature on page 8 of this year’s festival brochure.

More info @ www.theblockheads.com


9.30pm FESTIVAL ENDS – See you next year. Don’t forget to like our facebook page and website and/or join or facebook group to keep in touch.

We still need volunteers to help with clearing up after the festival on Saturday evening as well as from 10.00am on Sunday. Email: wigandiggers@gmail.com if you can help.


 

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Joe Solo to receive 2018 Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award

JoeSoloEACH year the Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee presents a Gerrard Winstanley Spade award to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the socialist cause. Previous winners include Tony Benn, Ken Loach, Maxine Peake and Jimmy McGovern. This year the Diggers’ Festival Committee have decided that the socialist singer/ songwriter Joe Solo receive the award. Through his music and dedication to helping others, Joe works tirelessly across the nation and in the Committee’s opinion undoubtedly deserves it.

Joe Solo is an award-winning musician, writer, poet, activist, broadcaster and washing machine engineer from Scarborough. His musical career began in 1987 and has seen him play seven countries either as lynchpin of pop-punk upstarts Lithium Joe or hammering out his unique brand of Folk, Punk and Blues supporting great causes along the way such as the miners, the International Brigade, Hope not Hate and many homeless charities.

On top of releasing fifteen albums since 2004 most inspired by socialist causes, Solo has written books and had them written about him; runs a research project on the Hull Pals Battalions in the First World War; has worked with underprivileged children to help them write their lives in song; hosts a weekly radio show; and still found time to open for the likes of David Rovics, Attila the Stockbroker, Otis Gibbs, Robb Johnson, Edgar Broughton, TV Smith, Paul Simmonds, Emily Portman, Pete Wylie, The Blockheads and Billy Bragg; whilst his songs have been played by John Peel on BBC Radio One, Mike Harding on BBC Radio Two and Tom Robinson on
BBC 6 Music.

In May 2015 Joe helped create WE SHALL OVERCOME, a campaign pushing for a positive response from the music community to the poverty and hardship inflicted on ordinary people by the Government’s austerity program. Since October 2015 the movement has organised more than 700 gigs in 142 towns and cities across 9 countries on 3 continents raising an estimated £350,000 in cash, food, clothing and bedding for those hardest hit. WSO scooped the ‘People’s Choice’ gong at the annual Yorkshire Grassroots Music Awards, and on the back of his efforts The Morning Star named Solo ‘Human Being of the Year’.

In October 2016 Joe was awarded the ‘Outstanding Songwriting’ prize at Yorkshire Gig Guide Grassroots Music Awards for his work on the album ‘Never Be Defeated’ telling the stories of the men and women of Hatfield during the 1984-85 Miner’s Strike; and their song together – ‘Merry Christmas From Hatfield Main’ – raised much-needed cash for a Hardship Fund set up to help those struggling in the former pit communities of South Yorkshire. Just before Christmas 2016 they performed it on stage together with a very special guest, none other than Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

After 30 years of writing and gigging, Joe made his Glastonbury debut in June 2017, taking to the Leftfield stage a skip in his step and a tear in his eye. As he said later: “It only took 30 years! Imagine what I could do in another 30!”

It is with great pride that Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee awards this years’ Gerrard Winstanley Spade to Joe Solo.

Wigan Diggers’ Speakers’ Corner

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An opportunity to let Wiganers know what you’re about in word or song!

This year’s festival will once again feature a third ‘Speakers’ Corner’ stage at the top of Millgate in Wigan town centre, where festival stall holders, individuals and other supportive organisations will have the opportunity to let the packed crowd of Wiganers at this year’s Food Festival and many hundreds of other passers by know what they are about in either word or song.

The first session of our Speakers’ Corner will kick off at 10.00am and finish at 11.30am to coincide with the Festival’s symbolic ‘digging re-enactment’ in Gerrard Winstanley Gardens and the official festival opening.

The second session will start at 12.15pm and last until 3.00pm

As time is limited and we may have as many as 30 organisations alone wanting to speak (5 minute slots) along with poets and other solo performers in between, we are asking everyone who wants to take up the opportunity of speaking/performing to contact us as soon as possible so we can allocate them a time slot in one or other of the two sessions. Unless a specific time is asked for, all timings will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

E-mail: stevechik@talktalk.net with your preferred start time.

Calling all Musicians & Other Artists + 2018 Diggers’ Festival Announcements

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THE 8th WIGAN DIGGERS’ FESTIVAL

will take place on

SATURDAY 8th SEPTEMBER 2018

If you’re a musician or other artist and  would like to perform at it then here’s a link to the application form to do so.

All applications will be viewed by the members of the stage entertainment committee who all have an equal vote as to who will be invited to perform at the festival.
All acts selected will be offered reasonable expenses and additionally provided with vouchers to obtain food and drink on the day.

The form should be downloaded, filled in and then emailed to diggersstageentertainment@gmail.com (address provided on form) no later than 15th February 2018, which is the deadline for all applications.

Members of the stage entertainment committee will not enter into individual correspondence with applicants, however, the committee will aim to notify all successful applicants by the 1st of April 2018.

An Invitation to the 7th Wigan Diggers’ Festival – Saturday 9th September 2017

Here’s the second of the three videos commissioned by the Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee, produced for us by First Take in Liverpool. This one features many familiar faces from our annual event, as well as the excellent new song “Come on England” composed by Festival Committee member Bob Kettle, performed by local band and former festival headliners Merry Hell. Hope to see lots of you there again this year.

Wigan Diggers’ Festival 2017 – Announcements

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The 7th Wigan Diggers’ Festival will take place on Saturday 9th September 2017

Are you a songwriter or would you like to perform at this year’s event? If so, then this is for you!

If you are a solo entertainer, duo, group or band and would like to peform at this year’s Festival, then here is the application-for-playing-at-wigan-diggers-festival-2017 form you need to fill in and return to us before 31st March 2017. Successful applicants will be notified will be notified by 30th April.

Please email the application with any attachments to diggersstageentertainment@gmail.com

WIGAN DIGGERS’ FESTIVAL SONGWRITING COMPETITION

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The Wigan Diggers’ Festival exists to promote the ideas of Wigan born Gerrard Winstanley, the inspirational leader of the 17th century Diggers’ Movement. Winstanley believed that “The Earth was a Common Treasury For All” and that all its inhabitants should benefit from the riches that it has to offer, rather than being the preserve of a privileged few.

2017 sees the 80th Anniversary of the publication of ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’ in which George Orwell highlighted the extent to which, almost 3 centuries on from Winstanley, the living conditions of the working class inhabitants of Wigan showed that, whatever prosperity abounded in Britain, that it was hardly being shared equally amongst its citizens.

To celebrate the publication of the book and the impact that it had, the Wigan Diggers’ Festival Committee are inviting submissions of songs inspired by Orwell’s groundbreaking work.

THE PRIZE

£250 FOR THE WRITER(S) OF THE WINNING SONG
AN INVITATION TO PERFORM THE SONG AT THE WIGAN DIGGERS’ FESTIVAL 2017

THE RULES:

1: THE SONG MUST BE AN ORIGINAL PIECE OF WORK
2: THE SONG SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO THE COMMITTEE ON OR BEFORE THE 8TH MARCH 2017.
3: THE SUBMISSION CAN BE IN ANY PERFORMANCE FORMAT – AN AUDIO FILE OR A VIDEO OF THE SONG BEING PERFORMED. IT IS PERMITTED TO SUBMIT A LINK TO A SOCIAL MEDIA SITE SHOWING THE PERFORMANCE OF THE SONG – FOR EXAMPLE A LINK TO A YOUTUBE UPLOAD
4: ENTRIES SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO diggerssongwritingcompetition@gmail.com
5: ENTRIES SHOULD INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
THE NAME(S) OF THE SONGWRITER(S)
A COPY OF THE LYRICS OF THE SONG
AN ATTACHMENT OR LINK TO A PERFORMANCE OF THE SONG

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE RECORDING QUALITY OF THE SONG IS NOT BEING JUDGED – IT IS THE MUSICAL AND LYRICAL CONTENT OF THE SONG THAT IS IMPORTANT. THE COMMITTEE INCLUDES A NUMBER OF WRITERS AND PERFORMERS AND THEY WILL BE ABLE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE SONG AND THE METHOD OF PRESENTATION.
6: THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED BY THE END OF MAY
7: THE COMMITTEE IS MADE UP OF PEOPLE WHO EACH HAVE A SINGLE VOTE – NO PERSON WILL HAVE MORE INFLUENCE THAN ANY OTHER PERSON
8: THE DECISION OF THE COMMITTEE IS FINAL AND NO CORRESPONDENCE WILL BE ENTERED INTO REGARDING THE SONGS SUBMITTED.
9: WRITERS OF ALL SONGS SUBMITTED (INCLUDING THE WINNER, WILL RETAIN ALL RIGHTS TO THEIR OWN SONG.

GOOD LUCK

6th Wigan Diggers’ Festival – A resounding success!

Quite definitely our biggest and best so far, this year’s Wigan Diggers’ Festival was a resounding success. Here are some photos of the day’s proceeding (courtesy of Al Balmer) which saw our best ever line up of live entertainment, five excellent educational talks, two puppet shows, over 60 stalls and a terrific speech from this year’s Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award recipient, veteran Socialist fim director Ken Loach (see below). The weather, food and beer were pretty good too.

Lots more photos on our Facebook Page.

Video of Ken Loach speaking at the Festival. What a brilliant speech.

More photos and video clips to follow.