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DAYS OUT: Taddiport’s strange and unusual Leper Festival takes place this weekend

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 30, 2014

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GOTH, gore, sores and rags will feature in Taddiport's unusual annual Leper Festival on Saturday – a quirky celebration of times when the village was a leper colony. It's the 13th annual event, organised by Torrington artist Shan Miller. The torchlit parade, usually led by Town Crier Al Mitchell, has this year been handed over to Aaron Custance who will deliver a proclamation on the steps of the Torridge Inn, Mill Street, to open the festival at 9pm.

From there the "lepers" will be driven over the Taddiport bridge, led by knight at arms Tony Boller, to the chapel of St Mary Magdalen (a former leper hospital), which will be open on the night. At this point there will be a brief recounting of the history of the colony before the procession of merrymakers returns over the bridge, followed by various street performers and spectators.

The evening will continue in The Loft with a line up of musical acts: The Wattingers, Azimuth Coordinator, The Black Dogs, DeeJay AFT and The Heubch Originators.

A Beggars Banquet – a 14th century barbecue reflecting the age-old custom of sausages and cider – will be made available courtesy of the Torridge Inn.

The organisers would like as many people as possible to take part in the parade, for which leper costumes and other props can be provided.

Anyone wishing to take part should contact Shan Miller on 07934 688965. There will be a prize for the best costume.

Leper Festival is on Saturday, February 1. Collections will be made throughout the event for registered charity LEPRA, whose work includes relief for leprosy sufferers worldwide. Visit www.leperfestival.co.uk.

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