8th Dec, 2016

Tip-top Gras festival will boost Vale

Rob George 28th Apr, 2016 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

EVESHAM’s famous Bell Tower was a central part of the launch of this year’s British Asparagus Festival.

The celebration of the famous Gras took in the historic venue and the bells of the tower, which have been silent for a year, rang out proudly to mark the occasion.

Vale residents flocked to the The Fleece Inn in Bretforton on Saturday as the festival, which regularly brings in more than £1million into the local economy, got underway.

And as well as all the usual excitement, this year’s celebration of the famous Gras could even be graced by the Prime Minister himself at some stage between now and June 21.

Evesham’s MP Nigel Huddleston extended an invite to David Cameron during PMQs and received a warm response from the PM.

The traditional St George’s Day launch of the Asparagus Festival once again kicked off at The Fleece Inn in Bretforton.

The Country Pub Of The Year for 2016 and The National Trust’s 15th century pub was the venue for the first leg of the Great Asparagus Run.

Morris and Molly Dancers, Gus The Asparagus Man, the fortune-telling asparamancer, Eddie Grundy, male and female Morris Dancers and a cross-dressing Asparafairy were all be on hand to celebrate the first-cut round of asparagus.

A convoy of vintage cars including three Morgans, several classic Bentleys and Rolls Royces and trucks from Truckfest then took the asparagus round to Evesham complete with a police escort akin to what the Royal Family could expect.

One of the highlights of this year’s launch was the celebrations at Evesham’s Bell Tower as the Avonbank Brass Band struck up some patriotic tunes to welcome the initial leg of the run.

A village fete, free for everyone, greeted the Gras as the bells rang out for the first time in decades from the tower which was draped in a giant St George’s flag.

Rodrigo Asparaguy, the Alpine All Male Winter Zumba Championships 2014 led a mass asparazumba while stalls selling everything eat and drink themed to asparagus dotted Abbey Green.

Three different folk singers entertained the crowds before the Rev Andrew Mottram officially blessed the tower.

This year’s Asparagus Run came to a close at Acorns Children’s Hospice in Worcester where the Gras will be handed over to raise money for the cause.

Kind-hearted staff at Cotswold Inns have dug deep to purchase this year’s first cut.