Sunderland Together Against Racism: Free family fun day at the Raich Carter Centre.
Once more the sun shone on Sunderland's STAR festival. The 2010 festival has been hailed as the biggest and best so far by many of the organisers and attendees. STAR which stands for Sunderland Together Against Racism was organised by Show Racism the Red Card with the majority of the funding coming from City of Sundeland Council.
The third annual festival kicked off early with the World Cup themed football tournament organised by the SAFC Foundation and Young Asian Voices. Three of the Raich Carter Centre's football pitches were in constant use as teams representing countries from around the world battled it out to see who would reach the final.
Play stopped for the official opening of the festival in which The Lions of Zululand sang the South African national anthem for the gathered masses. Their 'a capella' peformance was astounding and everyone stopped what they were doing to watch and listen. Now officially opened, the festival got into full swing.
Youngsters enjoyed the bouncy slide and the climbing wall which were free for them to take advantage of.
The whole event was broadcast live on Sunderland's very own Spark FM. Presenters from the shows conducted interviews throughout the day and took part in all of the activities encouraging their listeners to come down to the Raich Carter Centre in Hendon. Show Racism the Red Card's Education Team organised an anti-racism educational scavenger hunt in which most of the young people took part. Questions about racism towards asylum seekers and refugee groups were in-keeping with the theme of Refugee Week. Congratulations to Brandon from South Moor School who won a pair of tickets for a Sunderland AFC match.
The SAFC Foundation's speed cage was another star attraction at the STAR festival. Participants were given the opportunity to kick a football as hard as they possibly could and have the ball's speed measured by a giant electronic display board. The record for the day was 68.2mph (which Show Racism the Red Card's coach and ex-England under 21, Dean Gordon, couldn't even match! Dean only managed 62mph).
Balloon Modeller and Magician, Krazy Kev, provided indoor entertainment for families with his hilarious magic show and his amazing balloon animals, hats, swords, flowers and anything that anyone asked for.
Also indoors were stalls from local orgainisations such as Sunderland Arch who provided information about hate crime reporting in Sunderland, Academy 360 who provided attendees with mugs sporting a photograph of themselves. The NHS provided free fruit in the form of their Bushtucker Trial.
Other stalls included Young Asian Voices, Victim Support, Sans Street Community Organisation, The Red Cross, Hendon Health and ETEC. Cosmic Faces provided face painting for young people throughout the day. Learning from the last year, the organisers arranged an extra face painter and their queue was still a constant one.
After Krazy Kev's magic show, The Lions of Zululand got the attendees involved in a dance workshop which was a great opportunity for the young (and not so young) people to get involved.
Back outside, Highfield Rock Band from nearby Highfield Primary School livened up the afternoon promising to "blow your head off" (musically) with their self-penned Highfield Rock Band intro song. Things soon became mellower though with an amazing version of the Robbie Williams song, Angels.
On the main stage, the fashion show attracted a big crowd as the catwalk models showed the audience a fabulous array of clothes in the sunshine.
Late into the afternoon the football tournament finally reached a tense climax. In the under 16s catergory a Young Asian Voices team playing as Mexico took on a team from the Raich Carter Centre which played in the colours of Germany. The latter team took the honours. In the over 16s catergory, Brazil played South Africa in the guise of another Young Asian Voices team against a local team from Hendon in Sunderland. Unlike their younger counterparts who came so close, the older Young Asian Voices team were victorious in the final.
As the football finished the fantastic Lions of Zululand undertook their breathtaking final performance which was dynamic and vibrant musical production which brings to life the indomitable cultural history and tradition of the Zulu Kingdom. This lasted well into the late afternoon and everyone who attended went home with a smile on their face.
A huge thank you to everyone involved in the organising of the event and to the City of Sunderland Council and St. James's Place for funding such an important community festival.