Jubilee Bank Holiday Monday: While many streets around the capital were closed for parties to celebrate, those that wanted something a little different and a bike-fix headed to the Vulpine Summer Fete. The event took place in the plush surroundings of Balham Bowl Clubs, and its oak panelling and leather sofas and saw around 800 people visit the many stalls.
Spread over the two floors of the bowls club was a collection of companies showing their wares, all in celebration of British production and design in cycling. Also on show was the work of many top cycling-related artists. Nick Hussey from Vulpine clothing (and event organiser) explained:
“This has been a lot of hard work and is something which I want my grandchildren to know about!
"Basically I wanted to celebrate the Jubilee by getting together the best of British cycling under one roof, not aiming it at any specific group within cycling, just cyclists. We paired up each stall, frame builder, parts, clothing etc. with an artist, so not only can we show some beautiful products but some beautiful images of cycling.”
Refreshments were supplied by popular bike shop Look Mum No Hands, who had an array of cakes and coffees on offer, as well as a bar and hog roast provided by the Balham Bowls Club. Hussey continued. “We wanted this fete to be a social affair, where all the family could come to hang out and also chat to some of Britain’s top artisan companies. I did not want it to be an out-and-out trade show about selling, but somewhere where you could chat to those behind some very great products, finding out about them.”
Outside in the beer garden was the infamous Rollapaluza roller racing rig and graffiti artist The Toaster. Both of these proved popular attractions which many braved even during the few showers which passed over during the afternoon. Rollapaluza heats ran throughout the afternoon, for young and old, male and female, building up to a final with prizes from Vulpine CC, giving away some of their sought after clothing.
Chatting with some of the exhibitors at the event it was clear that this was something unique and special. The ever-in-demand artist Rich Mitchelson, famous for his unique caricatures of top cyclists reviewed his day at the Vulpine fete thus:
“It is always incredible to see a person’s first-hand response to my work. Normally working with online sales, it is nice to be able to chat with people who support and like what I do, finding out about them. This was not a typical trade show but something much more relaxed. I had prints for sale and limited edition tea towels which went well, but more importantly the relaxed atmosphere, sharing our passion in cycling was what made the event great for me, Nick has made this a great success.”
Tom Warmerdam, the driving force behind the NAHBS winning Demon Frameworks, was equally impressed with the day:
“Nick has done something special with this fete. All day long I have been chatting with passionate cyclists. Whether they are here to see the fete or working on the stalls, they have created a really positive atmosphere. British frame building is seeing a lot of growth at the moment. More and more people are looking towards custom frames, frames which are as much art as function, so with the fete promoting that, there is nothing but positives. This is a celebration of cycling, for all cyclists, who are all here for their love of bikes. All of the products on show were created with this passion, no marketing or big business, just the pure clean love of bikes!”
Not purely a fete for celebrating British cycling the Vulpine fete was also linked to a couple of charities. Hussey concluded. “It would be short-sighted to put in all this work and not help out those who need it. There are lots of deserving causes in cycling, and I wanted to assure a friendly, un-snobby vibe, so I asked that all the stallholders give something for a charity auction rather than pay us a fee. Hopefully it is the nicest way to help each other. We have supported Wheels for Wellbeing, who are raising money to support disabled cyclists in London, and the Rollapaluza Outreach, who take their roller racing to those who normally do not have access to such things. Donations have been taken and we are also running an ebay auction to raise money. The Toaster has also kindly donated his graffiti piece to the cause, and we will be auctioning that off soon also. With the great turn out we had I hope to raise a lot of money. To be honest I was really not sure before how the event would turn out. Naturally this being the first time there was a lot of nervous moments thinking that people would not turn out. Since opening at 12 noon we have been flooded with people, all enthusiastic for the event. It makes all of the hard work worth it and we are already thinking about the next fete!”
For more information on the ebay auctions please check go the to the Vulpine Auction ebay page there's still plenty left to bid for (although some items are ending soon). So far the auction has raised over £3200 with a Rich Mitch rouleur cover print going for £311 and a Ricky Feather custom stem for £215. It's definitely worth checking out if you're interested in interesting and esoteric cycling bits and pieces.
To find out more about the stalls at the fete please check www.vulpine.cc