THE popular Hatherleigh Festival kicks off this Thursday and runs until Sunday (July 23) with exhibitions, workshops, music and entertainment all wrapped up in the wonderful warm community spirit that prevails in the town.

Most of the events are free and there will be music to suit all tastes and entertainment for all ages.

On Thursday night there will be a preview of each art exhibition; in the Old Schools there will be a diverse exhibition showing the work of art of fine art and illustration students at Plymouth University, artworks by local students and artists under the age of 25 and Rupert Stockwin’s photographic pop-up exhibition (in a converted horse box); at The Pottery blues guitarist, potter and watercolour artist Josie Lloyd will be showing her work and resident artist with the Exeter Chiefs Clare Colvin will be showing her framed drawings and cards featuring dynamic rugby moves at the Café de Ville.

At the Salar Gallery Helen Jagger and Michael Moss will present their Poems and Paintings exhibition (from which their book of the same name was compiled) inspired by nature and rivers.

Music comes in the shape of everything from the Hatherleigh Silver Band and the Hatherleigh Ukelele Bashers on Thursday night to Hannah and Trefoil, Far from the Delta and headliners regee/rock/world fusion band Lionstar on Friday night in The Square.

Saturday morning will see art, dance and pirate hat workshops in the community centre and an afternoon and evening packed with entertainment from music from Fireblockers, the Kingstons and Vince Lee and the Big Combo to circus and dance performances and children’s author Emma Carroll (Letters from the Lighthouse) talking about her life as a writer.

The afternoon will also see the announcement of the winners of the Arvon Totleigh Barton Short Story Competition which Okehampton Primary School pupils have entered; judges include Michael Morpurgo and entertainment from FurriFingers puppets, Rising Stars drama group from Okehampton and local duo Silk and Strings. Sundays events include a service in The Square with the Gospel Choir and a craft show from noon in the community centre.

Running alongside the events will be the Festival Fringe including Hatherleigh Players performing ‘Murder on Air’ on Sunday at 2.30pm in the community centre.

Hatherleigh Festival committee member Josie Lloyd said the event was always popular and once again there was a great range of events over the four days.

‘Most of the events are free but we will be shaking the yellow buckets around so we can raise funds for next year,’ she said. ‘We are grateful to the sponsors without whom we would not be able to run the festival.’