PICTURES: French acts top bill at SO Fest in Mablethorpe

Ooh La La! From cheeky synchronised swimmers to a housewife failing to bake the perfect pie with spectacular consequences, two clever and funny French acts formed part of another highly successful SO Festival.

Held on day one in Mablethorpe’s Sherwood Fields before moving to Skegness and Tower Gardens, community groups joined top European and UK artists to entertain the crowds.

Acclaimed Danish artistic director Jens Frimann Hansen and his team from Helsingør Teater were once again responsible for bringing the eclectic mix of entertainment – unique in its variety and performance, which this year attracted thousands of people over the weekend.

“Our hope this year was to bring a greater intimacy with the communities in both towns, while showing a different perspective 
to what these resorts have to offer,” explained Jens.

“There can be a prejudice among people of what happens in places like Skegness and Mablethorpe and it is important to realise how people come here for many different reasons, for the quality of the beaches, to spend time together 
and to enjoy the nature.

“There is such diversity and the festival adds to that, presenting a different offer and not a competitive one. We aim to do something exceptional,” added Jens, who during the festival engaged European philosopher Guillaume Paoli to lead a workshop to gauge opinions and reflections of the resorts.

Organised by the cultural arm of the Magna Vitae Trust for Leisure and Culture, East Lindsey’s premier providers of leisure, fitness and entertainment venues, SO 2019 was supported by Arts Council England and East Lindsey District Council with support for the UK acts from Without Walls, an organisation dedicated to raising the profile of the outdoor arts sector.

Community artists taking part included a group from Linkage, the Lincolnshire Community Trust that supports people with learning difficulties. Adults from the organisation’s Toynton centre entertained with a mix of performances from popular West End shows, and dance.

Of the professional artists, highlights included a family-friendly puppet show telling the story of King Lear, the surprising performance of Super Super with the French duo using a paddling pool to perform a swimming routine, and a hugely enjoyable ‘Carnage in the Kitchen’ act by Tout En Vrac, which ended in flames, sparklers and fireworks.

“It has been wonderful, we plan our holidays to ensure we visit for SO Festival, a fantastic event,” said Jenette Nelson from Chesterfield.

For SO Festival worker, Gemma Parkin, 17, from Louth (pictured in the hi-vis jacket), the event has steered her future career.

When Gemma became involved in helping with SO, four years ago, she enjoyed the experience so much she is now on the second year of an Events Management degree course. Back this year as an ambassador, she said: “SO really has helped me decide what I want to do.

“I love the variety, the new skills that I have learned and the people – so much so that I have now decided this kind of career is for me.”