There have been so many challenges during the pandemic that a lack of literary events seems to be very low down on the list of priorities. Still, when the Armagh City, Banbridge and Criagavon Borough Council (ACBC council – the organisers of the Armagh Food and Cider Festival) came to me and said that that they would continue to plan for Flash Fiction in the Orchard, I felt something like how Cinders must have felt when her Fairy Godmother said, “You shall go to the ball!”
In the days leading up to the event, every email I received from the ACBC Council induced an increased heart rate. Was this the one that was going to cancel everything? Other emails to me often began with – “Is it still happening?”
With great delight, I’d answer, ‘Yes!”
Long Meadow Cider were our wonderful hosts. and huge a thank you goes to them. We got to sample their fabulous cider – my favourite is the rhubarb and honey cider – it’s to die for! To allow us to physically distance to meet COVID regulations, they gave us a bigger venue and moved us into their newly built cidery. We were advised to dress up warm – no problem! In the face of the pandemic, people were willing to give it a go – anything to get out and see people in the flesh – though that flesh was well covered up!
The festival organisers went to great trouble to decorate the space. Bistro tables and chairs were sited two metres apart. Our food was delivered to the tables in personal lunch boxes so we didn’t have to share ‘family style’. They used orange and red lighting to give the space a warmer feel and to augment the big air heaters they were using. We had a stage and a “no-touch” mic. The sound was superb. And the stage lights – very very bright! So much so that when on stage, you couldn’t see the audience. It seemed to catch every reader by surprise with many commenting on it!
And the readings were top notch – most of which are at this link
Flash Fiction in the Orchard 2020
We are so grateful to everyone who made this night happen:
- to the audience who put up with a chill in the air to sit and listen to the readers (the previous night’s temperature was the coldest September night in two decades!)
- to the ABCB council festival staff who made this happen and who ensured we were socialising safely.
- to the readers for sharing their hard work and creativity with us. Many have found this time a difficult period in which to be creative.
- to Long Meadow Cider – we can totally see why you are winning awards for your delicious produce
- to the sound guys – you rocked!
- to the video guy (My Husband) – you are awesome!
- to Réamonn Ó Ciaráin – the other half of Flash Fiction Armagh (the sensible half!) Your MCing was electric, as usual, despite the massive hailstone storm that competed with you.
- and to our social media followers for reading, watching, liking, sharing and commenting – your support helps our writers develop their platforms and carries Flash Fiction Armagh beyond the boundaries of the night that’s in it.
It might be a while before we have another event, but rest assured, better days are coming, and when they do, we’ll be ready.