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THOUSANDS HEAD TO CITY'S 'ASTONBURY'.

Byline: Christina Savvas

UP to 3,000 revellers gathered in the sunshine for the return of Birmingham's fastest-growing community festival - dubbed 'Astonbury'.

The crowds came in their droves, surpassing the expectations of the organisers of the sixth Aston Pride event held at Villa Park.

The turnout was achieved despite the fun clashing with England's dismal defeat to Germany.

The Villa Park car park was transformed into a colourful festival site with marquees, information stands, trade stalls, a funfair, live music and entertainment.

Eddie Edmead, community leadership theme manager, said: "It was fantastic.

Despite the challenge of England playing, which we won't say any more about, it was a really fantastic event. The show stopper for us was the live music and seeing the local talent.

"Attendancies surpassed the 2,500 expected. Just before the match kicked off, we had about 3,000 people. People came in their droves.

"The trade stands were buzzing, the food was excellent.

"It was Astonbury rather than Glastonbury this weekend. It was a real example of community cohesion in practice, with people from different ages, backgrounds and cultures coming together."

On the main stage, performers included the Notebenders, Double Blessing, Bengalz Knight, Young Gifted Brum, Rosey Sharker, Fo'Sho, Born After Dark, 3Ts and C4; Livewire ENT, and Solo Puppet Ministry.

Funding for Aston Pride is due to end next year but Mr Edmead said talks were ongoing about securing future funding to enable the festival to continue.

He said: "We would like the festival to continue annually. Talks are going on to see if we can make this happen."

The event was organised by local community partners, faith networks and funded by Aston Pride and Aston Villa.

Muff Murfin, chief executive of Aston FM Radio, added: "The Aston community festival is becoming one of Birmingham's most vibrant community events - enjoyed by thousands of Aston residents and increasingly attracting people from across the city."

CAPTION(S):

Main stage: Maryam Iqbal, Grace Evans and Ruth Noah, aka Fo'Sho, after their performance on stage. Fun: Amani Rahman tries out the climbing wall. Busy: The turnout at the Aston Pride festival exceeded expectations.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 29, 2010
Words:354
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