By Simon Hough, Recreation Manager
One of the great joys of Westonbirt is the year-round cycle of work that goes into making the tree collection such a vibrant place.
Our signature summer event, Treefest (Saturday 23 August – Monday 25 August 2014), is very much aimed at showing some of the variety of this ‘behind the scenes’ work including many traditional crafts and skills such as coppice working, charcoal production and furniture making.
This year at Treefest we are giving special emphasis to these craftspeople and the incredibly important work they do at Westonbirt in maintaining the woodland ecosystem and the local green economy, as well as the value for visitors of much of Silk Wood.
In the ‘Westonbirt at Work’ area, you will be able to see freshly felled timber being processed by steam-powered and modern day sawmills, before it goes on to be made into tool handles, furniture, charcoal – which in turn will be used by a blacksmith. You can also see traditional hurdle and shingle making which are still in great demand today on many structures, such as our own Silk Wood Barn.
Our volunteers will be providing guided walks of this area to showcase the demonstrations and meet the many people who, at least in part, derive a living from keeping these ancient skills alive and helping to look after and support Westonbirt.
Together with these demonstrations will be our learning team who will be providing many fun family activities, alongside den building and tree climbing master classes for budding young arborists!
You will even be able to buy some of our home-grown exotic timber from the Westonbirt wood sales, run by our volunteers, should you be inspired to ‘have a go’ at some of these crafts at home.
This is just one part of the less commercial and more educational aspects of our signature Treefest event, which takes a lot of planning and co-ordination year round to come together every August bank holiday weekend.
All of these less commercial aspects are what make Treefest so special and what makes us so proud of it.
Friends members will pay half price to attend the event and of course children go free at Treefest as they do at Westonbirt from 23 July to 31 August 2014.
This means that a theoretical Friends’ members’ family of two adults and two children will get access to the Treefest event for the whole day for £15, as opposed to £30 for non-Friends members.
Friends’ members who want to access the arboretum over the August Bank Holiday weekend will still be able to visit Silk Wood through the new Welcome Building, where refreshments and toilets will also be found.
The Old Arboretum, restaurant, shop and Exploratree play area will be within the Treefest site and unavailable to those not attending the event for these three days.
The Plant Centre will trade as normal during the event and access to it should be unaffected.
We hope you will want to come along and join in the fun this August in whatever capacity, as Westonbirt is the perfect summer’s day out for all the family.
For more information about Treefest, please visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-treefest