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Romans invade at Droitwich Spa Salt Fest
Buy this photo » INVADERS: Soldiers from the Roman Military Research Society at Droitwich Spa Salt Fest
ROMAN soldiers laid siege to Droitwich during a fun-packed festival which drew in crowds of 10,000.
The legionaries from Legio XIIII Gemina Martia Victrix invaded the town and provided some exotic seasoning to the Droitwich Spa Salt Fest on Saturday and Sunday, setting up camp by the canal in Vines Park.
Marcus Petronius, sometimes known as Alex Kracke, said: “It has been really positive. We were busy all day on Saturday.”
The soldiers, members of the Roman Military Research Society, tucked in to some Roman-style beef burgers all cooked at the popina, a sort of Roman wine bar serving fast-food which would have been the equivalent of an upmarket McDonald’s in Pompeii.
Most lavishly dressed of the company was Tiberius Claudius Fatalis (Len Morgan), the Primus Pilus of the legion, the same force which defeated Boudicca and were known as “tamers of Britain”.
Despite some dreary weather on Sunday the Romans were able to cheer the visitors with some sometimes bawdy Latin songs and chants, one of which (Semper Hic) translated as “I’m cold, I’m wet and my tunic is full of lice” and “I’m on the borders of Britain and I miss home”.
Droitwich may owe its existence to the natural brine springs but it proved it was worth its salt in more ways than one with highlights which included the Droitwich SaltFest 9 on Sunday, a “9ish”-mile race starting and finishing in Vines Park.
The race along the canals, organised by Droitwich Athletics Club, raises money for Murray’s Muscles which secures equipment to help people with muscular dystrophy live more independent, happier and fulfilling lives.
About 100 runners took part to help people such as Murray Field, a 15-year-old of King George Avenue, Droitwich, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which means his muscles get progressively weaker.
His father, Mark, said: “There are some very clever treatments potentially coming through, as long as the funding is available.
“We set up Murray’s Muscles to raise money to go towards funding equipment for people with muscular dystrophy.”
The men’s race was won by Dan Cleary, of Halesowen, in a time of 54 minutes 34 seconds and the women’s by Amanda Bowen, who did not belong to a running club, in a time of 1.06.31.
There was plenty of animal magic on show with goats, horses and a dog show with categories including best in show, best puppy, fancy dress, waggiest tail, best rescue, prettiest eyes and dogs that look like their owners.
Crowds were kept entertained by live music, funky facing painting, a real ale bar, and many stalls by independent groups in the community and charities.
Janet Yates, Droitwich Spa area partnership manager for Wychavon District Council, which organises the event with the support of the community, said there could have been as many as 10,000 visitors on Saturday.
This is the second consecutive year the fest, which began in 2006, has also been held on a Sunday.
She said: “We have some fantastic live music for the afternoon. Despite the conditions the public are coming along and enjoying themselves. The whole event has grown and grown.”
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