SYWG had a very successful debut at the Poringland Fete in mid July after the Parish Council had invited us to attend after our successful Buglife talk in March.
We had two activities we could use that required little in new development – the Pollinator Quiz and Sarah Wilde’s Butterfly Game that were the focus at last summer’s Fair on the Yare. The new activity for the fete was the Stop the Lawnmower Game. It was a bit of a rush to get it made in time as I only came up with the idea about three weeks before the fete. My attention until the end of June had been on the Chet B-Line deadline for funding. I am indebted to Les Banks and his colleagues at the Poringland Men’s Shed for working up my idea and getting the game built when they had several other projects in hand. Les also came up with the strap-line we used ‘Don’t mow it, Grow it. Save the nectar.’
At the fete we gave a jar of honey to anyone who could stop the moving model lawnmower before it reached the flowers and knocked them over. We charged adults £1 and children 50p to have a go with three small bean bags. A target on the mower had to be hit to stop the mower. The thinking behind the game was that it should be fun, be physical but also have a message of leaving the flowers to flower and don’t mow constantly just to keep things tidy. Obviously in the real world we have to compromise but there are lawns, grassy areas and verges which could help pollinators a lot more if only there were less mowing!
It was a popular activity with 85 people trying it including 39 children. One of the successful participants was the Chair of Poringland Parish Council who made a direct hit with his first throw. Since the fete, Buglife has taken the the game to Countryfile Live which was held at Blenheim Palace. Paul Hetherington, who was our March Buglife speaker, has said it was a huge hit and the game’s next outing is the BirdFair where it will be in the Simon King tent.
The Pollinator Quiz was also popular despite most of our attention being on the Lawnmower Game. 33 quizzes were completed and we gave away the 30 lavender plants we had brought to give to people who did the quiz – I was a little surprised how pleased some people were to be offered one!
Only 13 of the quiz participants were members of a wildlife organisation which shows that by taking part in these events SYWG can reach out beyond its usual constituency. That is about the same percentage we found from the much larger sample at the Fair on the Yare – somewhere around 35% were members of a wildlife organisation.
The Butterfly Game was also popular. I saw several children and often their parents really focused on it. It involved finding the names of some of the more common butterflies and then locating what kind of plant each species lays its eggs on. Increasing people’s knowledge and awareness of the life cycle requirements of insects such as butterflies is crucial. Having available sources of nectar is important but so are the needs of the eggs and caterpillars.
Thank you Sarah Wilde, Andrew Milner, Carol Carpenter, David Canon and Michael Essinger for making the day a success. Without you it would not have happened. Thank you also Kaarin Wall for doing the posters, helping with the general organisation and giving wise counsel.
What can we take home from the fete? Michael Essinger said we created a lot of goodwill and it allowed us to get our message across and reinforce it to a new audience.
Words by Rodney Aldis