The 10th Maidstone Mela proved to be a great hit with over 10,000 people in attendance in Mote Park on Sunday September 9. They were able to enjoy a feast of music, food and dance from around the World.
The Mela which was organised in partnership by Maidstone Borough Council, Cohesion Plus, Kent Equality Cohesion Council and local community groups has gone from strength to strength since the first event in 2003. Traditionally held on the second Sunday in September it is now a fixture on the Maidstone calendar and has developed into one of the biggest in the South East.
This year to coincide with the climax of the Paralympics the Maidstone Rebels Wheelchair Basketball Club and Kent based athlete Joshua Taylor who is one of leading runners in his class in the 100, 200 and 400 meters were invited on to stage to talk about their sporting activity and how they have overcome disabilities to achieve positive outcomes in their chosen sports.
Highlights of the stage programme included Steel Ambition a popular young people’s Steel Band from Kent, Lyra Vocal Ensemble from Saint Petersburg in Russia, the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group, the Winners of Maidstone’s Got Talent Danny and Dan, Mandy Ellen School of Dance, Maidstone Nepalese Community Dance, Harmony, Bombay Blast, Merenkurkut Finnish Folk Singing, Square Pegs and Four by Four Bhangra.
The Mela was headlined by bhangra star PBN (Panjabi by Nature) who was performing in Maidstone for the first time. He wooed the audience with his unique urban bhangra fusion sound; he was preceded by Jessie Jay a leading tribute act who had everyone up and dancing along to the songs of Jessie J. The Mela was climaxed by the Magnificent Motown who managed to get the thousands in attendance up and dancing with their soulful tunes.
According to Hepps the front man of PBN “This was the first time that I have performed in Maidstone and I look forward to coming back again soon. The crowd gave us a lot of support and I was pleased that I was able to introduce new audiences to our music. Well done to Cohesion Plus and Maidstone Borough Council for a fantastic event.”
Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus who worked with Maidstone Borough Council on the organisation of the Mela commented “I have worked on the Mela for the last 10 years and am really proud of what we have managed to achieve. I feel that much credit needs to be given to our partners Maidstone Borough Council and local community groups who have worked with us year in and year old and together we have been able to develop the Mela so that it is now one of the largest in the South East. I am sure other Mela’s and Festivals can learn from us about how we have managed to develop it year upon year.”