About this time the commitees of different villages in the Seven Valleys area in Pas-de-Calais start to meet and think about the straw sculpture competition in the summer.
In July every village puts on a show to celebrate the fertile land, the summer, the harvest – any excuse really for a festive event! Preparation for the straw sculptures is a closely guarded secret – everyone who participates in putting the sculptures together is sworn to complete silence and woe betide anyone who lets out information to opposing teams!
I took a very small part in the efforts that were carried out in the village of Embry at the invitation of a friend there. Meetings were held, everyone had to submit ideas and then when the best theme was chosen we were all assigned tasks.
The rules state that everything has to be made by hand and it must be made of straw but you’re allowed to embellish a little. Embry went for an Asterix village, there were straw people, straw huts and costumes to make and a lot of effort was put in. Some villages lay on evening barbeques and in most of them there will be at least a friterie wagon or moules and frites.
We went to the local goat farm for dinner with friends – the food was not exactly gourmet fare but the tropical cocktails were lovely and it was a great atmosphere.
The streets in all the villages are lit with braziers, there are straw sculptures not just on the village greens but also in gardens and on the night of the unveiling of the sculptures the little country roads of the Seven Valleys are full of car loads of villagers driving to view and judge the sculptures – there’s a prize for the best one!
I’m really looking forward to this year’s event – it will be on 21 July and the circuit includes the following villages according to the tourist site for the Seven Valleys - Beaurainville, Loison, Offin, Hesmond, Lebiez, Royon, Torcy, Créquy, Rimboval, Embry and Boubers les Hesmond.
This time I’ll be one of those driving round and enjoying the sights and partaking of a glass of wine or beer at each location as I judge the straw sculptures!A bientôt Janine