The Kent Festival belongs to the British and International Federation of Festivals of which Her Majesty the Queen is Patron. Among its 300 plus members are festivals in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong & Sri Lanka to name just a few. The Federation supports members with advice, obtaining insurance at a reasonable cost and recruiting and training eminent musicians to act as adjudicators.
The Kent Festival was initially set up by a group of musicians, mostly church organists, headed by Dr. Perrin (organist at Canterbury Cathedral). The first festival was held on 10th May, 1905 at the Maidstone Corn Exchange. It was intended that the Festival should move around the county and for many years it was held in either Maidstone, Canterbury, Chatham, Dover, Folkestone or Ashford. Not until the late 1960’s was it decided to use Canterbury as a permanent base. In the early days there were classes for solo singers, strings and village bands. Elocution was added in 1925 and Dance in 1976. At first, most competitors were adults, but now those taking part are generally under nineteen years of age.
In 2004 the Festival was delighted to receive an Award for Excellence in the volunteers scheme organised by K.C.C. in recognition of the work done over many years by people who have willingly spent time doing such things as arranging venues, writing certificates, serving refreshments and acting as stewards.
The Festival has seen many changes over the years. Some competitors, such as Freddy Kempf, have achieved international fame but hopefully all who have taken part have left feeling they have learnt something that would help improve their performance.
President – Elizabeth Cameron
Chairman (Seniors): Spencer Payne
Chairman (Juniors): Stephen Dandridge
Entries: Stephen Dandridge – 01227 738692
Treasurer: Marjorie Grove
Trophies: Marjorie Grove
Assistants: Sarah Bailie, Lorraine Spiro