A woolly tale of success and a cautionary tale for National Lottery

A Sheep Festival conjures up those daft wooly creatures putting on an event akin to something from Shaun the Sheep unbeknown to the farmer. That is what my daughter’s impression was when I told her I would be covering the event in Llandovery.

Happy food stall holders

I wasn’t sure what to expect either but sheep were definitely on my radar. I wasn’t disappointed. There were some lovely sheep but they were safely ensconced in sheep pens in a marquee while all around, ladies sat at weaving wheels and spun their products. Stalls were decked with wools of all colours and textures and clothing stalls sold woollen garments and of course T-Shirts and Hoodies in tribute to sheep.

For those who wished to get away from the whiff of sheep by product and hay there were other marquees selling food and drink of every kind BUT predominantly hand crafted. I sampled a lamb roll from the local butcher and it was probably one of the best things I have eaten all year (apologies Vegans and vegetarian readers).

There is only so much food one can eat and as the sun went over the yardarm I headed off in search of liquid refreshments. Without identifying the nature of my liquid of choice I headed for The Bear Inn, which was packed with visitors.

Great map and affordable merchandise which generated money for next year

Music was the common denominator for the day. There were performances at the Market Square and at the Castle Car Park as well as some at other smaller venues. Such as The Castle Hotel, the Bowls Clubhouse and Llandovery Station. It was all within a short walking distance and best of all it was all FREE.

This was truly an example of people power, good organisation and communication and a perfect balance of content for families. No wonder the Mayor of Llandovery Gina Jones was looking so happy as were the organisers and volunteers who could not do enough for visitors.

We have already mentioned some of the highlights in our article but there were also side events like the ‘No to Pylons stall and the Men in Sheds stall, both of which impacted on the community. One fighting to stop the blight of pylons, which one would expect to be supported by those Net Zero Carbon fanatics at the Senedd along with backing a bypass for cleaner air and an end to the suffering for the people of Llandeilo.

The Men in Sheds did not have as many beards as I had predicted and the age range was quite mixed. Women were welcome too. They really were a jolly bunch who served the community by repairing stuff and coming up with great ideas like recycling Scalextric to hold races for charity.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the marked difference between this small town and another town, also boasting a castle but one which frittered away £300,000 leaving not a stick of usefulness in its wake. Funders like the National Lottery really need to do their due diligence and rigidly identify those who can and those who talk a good talk on paper. They also need a better follow up system whereby they can claw back those funds if the project did not meet its aims.

There are no doubt many examples of organisations in Wales claiming funding and doing a great job with the cash but there are also numerous charities or organisations who are not and who are often double funding solely because they have someone in a high paid position who can fill out the forms and exploit vulnerable volunteers to do the ground work. It needs looking into by the Charity Commission.

To end on a high note, it was wonderful to see the mixture of people in the Bagad Glaziked Pouldegrad band providing Breton music, which really did wake the dead around Llandovery. The magnificent statue of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan looked down very favourably on events.

The Sheep Festival at Llandovery continues today from 10.30 until late.

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