WIGANERS are preparing to take to the water for the borough’s biggest canalside hoedown.
Narrow boat skippers from all over the country have already set off to navigate down Britain’s cuts for the now annual combined three day long ‘Beer, Boat and Music Festival’ extravaganza based at the Crooke Hall Inn.
Wigan’s All Gates Brewery, Crooke Cruising Club and the village’s folk music club have joined forces to stage the event which spills out of the classic canalside pub onto the towpath, into a large marquee, open air stage and indeed over the murky waters of the surrounding Leeds and Liverpool cut this weekend.
Events over the three days will be evenly spread throughout the pub’s cellar bar, a marquee and the village green.
While new and enthusiastic landlords Greg and Jenny Liptrot are promising one of the best programmes yet.
The event has expanded from the former annual Appley Bridge boat rally which, by all accounts, outgrew its former moorings. There will be sing-a-rounds and impromptu sessions.
So if you play guitar, spoons or harmonica, said landlord Greg, take it along!
Landlady Jenny said: “The event will be mainly outdoors with marquees for our music and beer tent.
“We have over 30 cask ales available across the weekend and music from tea time on Friday through to Sunday and are hoping to raise as much as possible for our chosen charities.”
All Gates, which owns the revived pub, are laying on their full range of finely crafted beers.
Director David Mayhall said it will showcase 30 plus real ales from northern breweries including All Gates, all served directly from the cask, with the festival held in a large marquee specially erected on the pub’s car park in case of inclement weather making the pub gardens too wet under foot.
Beers featured include two from Hawkshead Brewery and Dark Star of Brighton, Off Beat, Ossett, Great Heck, Black Jack, Phoenix, Boggart Hole Clough, The Brew Co, Black Hole, Blakemere, Titanic, Acorn, Elland and Liverpool Organic, plus beers from Prospect and Thwaites and several from All Gates .
The Music Festival proper starts on this evening at 7pm with the Ormskirk Ukulele Club, followed by The Wigan Ukulele Club who are based at the pub. They will be ably and tunefully supported by Band of Crookes and The Hermitage.
Tomorrow, starting at 1.30pm, is Adam Cheatham, followed by the Wigan Ukulele Club, and Irish Set, Joyful and the Playboys, The Pyramids, Ken Scally and an open microphone session, Catalonia and then The Pyramids hit the stage again at 9pm.
Sunday features Gerry and The Atrics, Billy and the Tempermentals , Trez Fez, South Seas and finishing the festival at 5pm, Shoot the Cuckoo.
All the professional folk groups have agreed to any fees that they would normally receive to go to charity, with collecting boxes being shaken at all events. Sponsors have also given a number of impressive prizes for a charity draw.
Co-organiser Malcolm Holbrook, the Commodore of Crooke Cruising Club, said that the festival is their most exciting challenge of the year.
Although largely composed of boat owners, some members of the 20 year old club are boatless canal enthusiasts who just love the thought of life on the waterways.
Mr Holbrook, from Haigh, said: “Many boat clubs have been invited and narrow boats will be moored along both sides of the canal.
“Many of them will be decorated and we will be having a contest for the best ones and there will also be a procession of illuminated boats from Crooke along the canal towards Wigan.”