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All set for Muswell Hill festival

PUBLISHED: 17:13 04 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:22 07 September 2010

Donkey derby

Donkey derby

THIS year's Muswell Hill Festival and Donkey Derby is set to be the biggest yet – with more than 80 stalls, local celebrities and treats galore. With just one week to go, businesses and residents are busy preparing for the annual festival in Cherry Tree W

THIS year's Muswell Hill Festival and Donkey Derby is set to be the biggest yet - with more than 80 stalls, local celebrities and treats galore.

With just one week to go, businesses and residents are busy preparing for the annual festival in Cherry Tree Wood.

Performances from local singers, dancers and music groups will be just some of the entertainment provided on Sunday September 14.

Entries for the famous donkey race include La Porchetta restaurant, the Old White Lion and Giraffe restaurants, as well as an entry from the Ham&High Broadway.

Beth Hegarty, assistant manager at Giraffe, which is entering with a donkey called Hank, said: "We took part in the donkey derby last year and came second and this year we're planning to do even better. It was lots of fun and we're really looking forward to this year."

A spokesman at the Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association, which organises the event, said: "We think it will be the biggest festival ever. The sponsorship take-up was slow in the summer but has picked up now and we think it will be very successful."

All proceeds will go to the Hornsey Trust, a charity for children with cerebral palsy.

Julia Stanger-France, head of fundraising at the trust, said: "Weather permitting, it will be the best year ever. The festival is great not just for raising money but also to remind people of the trust and what we do.

"We are very grateful for everyone who has supported us. This year 12 volunteers from Starbucks will be joining us, which is brilliant.

"We are hoping to raise £20,000 this year, which will hopefully be the biggest and best yet."

There will be more than 80 stalls by local businesses and shops offering goods including food and jewellery. Newcomers to the area Planet Organic will also be offering organic food and beauty products.

Entertainment will be provided by the the Finchley Children's Music Group choir and dance troupes from the North London Performing Arts Centre. Singers Kat Neocleous and Joanne Young, from Crouch End, will also perform.

Other highlights include local authors Alison Joseph, Dick Sharples and Robert Ryan signing books. And an auction will also offer prizes including the highest bidder's name becoming a character in the next story by Ms Joseph.

Karate demonstrations, face painting, a dog show and vegetable monster competition will all take place.

The festival has moved around since its creation in 1976. It started off at the car park behind Marks and Spencer before expanding into a street festival in Fortis Green Road.

When the Hornsey Trust took over five years ago with the idea of reinventing the festival with a Donkey Derby, it had to move once again. Haringey Council does not allow events which use animals so the festival uprooted to Cherry Tree Wood, which is just over the border into Barnet.

As usual, teddy bears will be parachuted off the tower of St James's Church on Saturday September 13 at 10am to mark the opening of the festival weekend.

The festival will run on Sunday September 14 from noon to 6pm and costs £1 for adults. Entry is free for children under 16.

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