IT was a sixth time win for talented dancer Matt Norman, formerly from South Zeal and now of Bristol, who became the 2023 Dartmoor Step Dance Champion at the 46th Dartmoor Folk Festival held at South Zeal, from August 11 to 13.
The Dartmoor Step Dance competition is one of the main traditions associated with the festival.
Dancers step on a 15 inch board, showing their different steps to try and outstep the previous dancer until a final champion is decided upon.
The final of the competition saw the dancing take place on top of a traditional Dartmoor wagon.
Matt previously won the title in 2008, 2011, 2015, 2017 and 2021.
A skilled Dartmoor Step Dancer, Matt led some workshops in how to perform the intricate steps prior to the competition at the festival.
Second was Christabel White with Jenny Read third and Beth Frangleton fourth.
The Junior Dartmoor Step Dance winner was Stanley Frangleton (15), from South Zeal, who previously won the competition in 2022 and, before that, at the virtual festival held in 2020.
Second was Jacob Rennie.
This year's Dartmoor Broom Dance Champion was Dorothy Parker-Groom (11), from South Zeal.
She said she was thrilled to win the title, having practiced the dance for many years.
Her mother said: “Dorothy started to learn the steps at the festival soon after she could walk.
“She has practiced in our garden and at the festival workshops.”
Dorothy’s older sister Matilda was the Broom Dance Champion in 2021.
This competition sees competitors dance with and over a broom and is for primary school aged children.
There were many competitors in all of the competitions.
The festival included song and music sessions, concerts, ceilidhs, church service, a Grand Dart-i-moor Fayre, Folk for All afternoon, children's entertainment, a duck race, skittles, crafts, dance displays, pub sessions and a ramble on Dartmoor.
Top local and national folk artists took part.
Press Officer and festival committee member for more than 40 years, Alan Quick, officially opened this year’s festival.
He said: “I have fond memories of attending dances with Bob Cann and the Dartmoor Pixie Band when I was younger.
“It was Bob who came up with the idea of a festival to revive and preserve the traditions of Dartmoor.
“The first few Festivals were held at Wood Country House not far from here, the very first in 1978.
“I remember attending the second Festival and I think I have attended nearly every one since.
“Bob was helped by a very small group of friends and family in organising those first festivals and it was after the first one that Cyril May said to this group, ‘If no-one comes, we’ll all have to dip our hands in our pockets’.
“No-one could under estimate the amount of work put in by Bob and his wife Joyce in those early years, they had no telephone, there was no email and most of it was done by letter or word of mouth.
“We sadly lost Bob in 1990 but Bob saw 12 very successful festivals.
“Just a few years before, it was a real honour for him that he was presented with the British Empire Medal for his services to folk music.
“His family, descendants, friends, local people and a fantastic committee have proudly carried on the tradition of organising this wonderful Festival since, 33 now held since Bob’s sad passing.
“It is down to the hard work of the committee and volunteers that the Festival has grown over the years and continues to keep Dartmoor’s customs and traditions alive. Bob would be so proud of each and every one who has been involved.
“Personally I really enjoy seeing everyone having such an enjoyable time at the festival events.
“I know Bob would have been proud of everyone who has been involved over those years in continuing the aims he established of a fantastic festival which provides so much enjoyment.”