They died out about 65
million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous Period.
But in a Harborough comeback even more remarkable than Sir Bob Geldof’s gig at the leisure centre, the dinosaurs are back in town.
The monsters, up to five metres high, have just been confirmed as a key part of Harborough’s street performers for the Arts Fresco event, which is on Sunday, September 14.
Sharper-eyed spectators and palaeontologists will realise they’re not actual dinosaurs. They’re stunningly costumed street performers on stilts, members of Dutch group Close Act Theatre.
Harborough people can vividly remember the last time this brilliant group made dinosaurs walk down the High Street, at the town’s Arts Fresco event in 2007.
Now Nina Thomas, head of the Arts Fresco committee’s fundraising, said: “Yes, we’re getting the dinosaurs over from Holland again.”
Arts Fresco is back after the new committee secured key sponsorship deals, including a £15,000 Arts Council grant, a £10,000 donation from Joules Clothing and a large but undisclosed sum from Market Harborough Building Society.
Now the town’s Angel Hotel has stepped up with a £1,000 donation to support the event. The hotel will also be offering cut-price accommodation to the acts.
Darren Barton, manager at the hotel, said: “We are so pleased that this unique event is returning to the town.”
Arts Fresco’s artistic director Neil Kitson, the son of original Harborough director George Kitson, said he was as excited as anyone about the free event’s return to the town.
“What I’m trying to do is to mix the ‘greatest hits’ from previous years, like the dinosaurs, with new acts that people won’t have seen before,” he explained. “We’ve got acts from Holland and Belgium and from all over Britain.”
Other acts confirmed so far include the Stomp-style percussion group Bang On, who create music from domestic items like wheelie bins.
There is the return of the “man with a suitcase” comedian Edmund Tahl, a caravan-based act called The Wonderful World of Mr E, radio-controlled street furniture and some astonishing sand sculptures.
Look out too for dancers on stilts called Rintintin Salsa the “messily foodilicious” comedy of the Wet Picnic theatre group, and silly magical double act Jones and Barnard.
Harborough town centre will be closed for the event, between 9am and about 4.30pm, allowing people to stroll around the various acts.
During its heyday, Arts Fresco attracted about 10,000 people to the town centre.
“It’s a great event for Harborough people and of course Harborough businesses,” said Mr Kitson. “It has long-term benefits for the town.
“People should come along to Arts Fresco because it promises to be a thrilling day.
“If you’ve not been before, it’s not a structured event with a central stage.
“You will just see truly remarkable things as you stroll around the town.”