Celebrate William Barnes alongside a Feast of Dorset Fayre

Join The Ridgeway Singers & Band for Dorset’s own celebration of the remarkable dialect poet William Barnes, in a lively performance of his works.

A pop up Dorset Food & Drink producers market will be held during the day.


Whilst up and down the country, suppers take place each year to mark the birthday of Robert Burns, since 2017 Artsreach and The Ridgeway Singers & Band have instead celebrated the works of Dorset’s own dialect poet, William Barnes, through music, song and poetry in ‘Tea with William Barnes’.

William Barnes relished the country-dances, folksongs and carols of Dorset, and often wrote about community celebrations, where music was a key part of the proceedings, capturing the sound of the Dorset speech in an artistic and imaginative way.

Led by Tim Laycock and Phil Humphries, The Ridgeway Singers and Band will be joined by guests from The William Barnes Society to celebrate the sounds and stories of old Dorset, performing traditional songs collected across the county, playing dance tunes from the repertoire of Blackmore Vale fiddler Benjamin Rose, and reciting some of the poems that keep alive the rich dialect of Dorset.

There is also an option to livestream the event, to enjoy from home.

For the first time, Artsreach is also delighted to be partnering with Dorset Food & Drink to host a mini pop-up producers and makers market on the day, offering the chance to try some famous local produce or discover something brand new made in Dorset! The market is open to the general public from 10am-3pm.

Date and times


Both the live performance and market will be held at The Exchange in Sturminster Newton.


Tickets are £15.00 each, which includes a cream tea. Available from The Exchange (01258 475137) or online at www.artsreach.co.uk

By partnering with Pageant Productions to live stream the event, Dorset’s touring arts charity Artsreach also hopes to enable those who are unable to attend in person to join in from the comfort of their own home. Find out more and register for a ‘Pay What You Can’ e-ticket at artsreach.co.uk