Wacky festival in Surbiton celebrates mythical legend Lefi

A woman dressed as a fairy, a boy in a cheese costume and human guinea pigs were just some of the sights to be seen at this year’s Seething Festival in Surbiton.

Dozens of residents and non-locals alike braved the sub-zero temperatures last Sunday to join a barmy parade celebrating the mythical goat boy Lefi Ganderson.

The event, which is in its ninth year, aims to foster a community spirit through the story of Lefi’s triumph against evil giant Thamas Deeton.

The festivities, which kicked off with music from local band Days Are Done at St Andrews Square, were organised by local social enterprise group The Community Brain.

Community Brain volunteer Brett Alderton, who lives in Kingston, said: “We all go about our daily lives just kind of being busy and not doing stuff. But this is a ridiculous excuse to just come out, have a bit of fun, bring your kids and just you know have a laugh. And obviously celebrate Lefi Ganderson, the goat boy of Seething.”

The so-called legend, invented in Surbiton pub The Lamb, claims that Surbiton used to have both a mountain and an evil giant who would return every fourth year to terrorise villagers.

One day, the goat boy, who lived at the bottom of the mountain, made a bet with Thamas that if he could survive on food the size of a ring for a year the giant would have to leave.

After losing the bet, Thamas is said to have smashed down the mountain and fallen in to the river to become what is now Thames Ditton.

The story has become part part of an event organisers planned to stop Surbiton becoming another “faceless community”.

The parade started at 3.30pm with help from Kingston University’s architecture department. KU architecture lecturer Takeshi Hayatsu, alongside some of his 4th and 5th year students, built a mobile Japanese shed known as a Yati to be part of the festival.

A Japanese shed adorned with plants and flowers was used to signal the start of the parade
A Japanese shed adorned with plants and flowers was used to signal the start of the parade

The shed was filled with plant seeds to be handed out and decorated with milk bottles containing flowers. Volunteers moved the shed across a short track to signal the start of the parade.

Hayatsu said: “It’s really great to become part of something especially with the planting and seed-giving function which really reinforce this community engagement and exhibition.

“It’s all about building for the community, so I’m hoping that today’s events will help students get to know the people in the community more which helps for their thesis project.”

Festival organisers then led the annual procession across the streets of Surbiton where surprised onlookers saw a large effigy of Lefi and locals dressed up as different guild members – the talcum miners, cheesemakers, taxonomists, curriers and water bearers.

John Bruce, who lives in Camberley, said it was the first time he had walked in the procession.

He said: “I think it’s tremendous. I thought the Japanese Yati was great. Everyone’s really enthusiastic. Where we live there’s nothing like this.”

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