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Tameside children and families enjoy the area's largest free day out

The rain didn't stop families ending the summer holidays on a high with clowns, musicians and puppeteers taking over Cedar Park for the annual Hurst Festival.

More than 1000 local children, parents, grandparents and carers attended the event on Thursday August 24, with free burgers and ice-creams rolled out for families to keep costs down. 

Mum Emma Rabinska said: “It was a fun filled day – even in the rain we still had a great time. We loved the bouncy castles, bikes, football and a game shooting targets, and we tried circus skills, arts and crafts. All for free too so I didn’t have to worry about how much money I had.”

Mum Jamie Leigh said: “It was another amazing Hurst Festival. Seeing the amount of smiles on the kids faces and families coming together in the school holidays was just brilliant. Well done to everyone.”

The event is now in its sixth year and is organised by the Smallshaw Hurst Children’s Community supported by Save the Children, and Ashton United in the Community. More than 20 volunteers also helped out on the day.

Face-painting was provided by Funny Bunny Face Painting, arts and crafts were from the Oldham Play Action Group, Wainman Designs ran a hook-a-duck stall, and Lavish Style provided festival hair and makeup. Tameside Youth Service provided a stage and bikes for children to ride. 

Smilie Promotions’ clowns performed for the children, while the bird puppetsthat soared overhead were from carnival arts organisation Global Grooves.

Christine Gavano, who organised a tombola, raffle and cakes stall with support from volunteers at theSmallshaw Hurst food pantry, said: “This event is the highlight of summer in our area as many of the children don't always get trips out to things like theme parks, the cinema, the beach, because of the cost-of-living crisis. Bus fares and entrance fees cost a lot, so Hurst Fest is part of their summer holiday. 

“Kids could get their face painted , go on bouncy castles, and hear the band. Seeing smiles and happiness on their faces is priceless. They had free burgers chips and ice creams which some children don’t always get because of the cost - so that's a big treat too.” 

The annual family fun-day which is planned months in advance and is one of the biggest children’s events in the area that is entirely free for families.

Lydia Wright, Senior Innovation & Partnership Officer for the SmallshawHurst Children's Community, said: “Despite a rainy start we were so thrilled to see so many families having a fun day out and we work hard to make sure all children locally having something to look forward to in the summer holidays. 

“Times continue to be hard for families at the moment with the cost-of-living crisis so we wanted to make sure we did something that was free for parents. Not everyone gets a holiday or a big trip out during the summer break but families always tell us Hurst Festival is a memorable day."

The Smallshaw Hurst Children’s Community runs The Pantry, which is open every Tuesday 9:30am-12:30pm from the pavilion in Cedar Park. This service provides £3 for a bag of food shopping worth approximately £18, and includes fridge, freezer, and store cupboard essentials, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.

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