BLACK Country Day will be celebrated in style this weekend – with the approval of Her Majesty the Queen.
Tipton Libraries manager Robert Hazel wrote to the Head of State to tell her of the celebrations set to take place on July 14, and enclosed a Black Country flag for good measure. Almost by return of post, he received an official letter from Buckingham Palace, wishing us all well and expressing thanks for the Queen's very own Black Country flag.
The day will be marked right across the region with a host of special events celebrating our heritage and culture. July 14 was chosen as it commemorates the day in 1712 when Thomas Newcomen's steam engine was installed at the Coneygre coalworks near Tipton, an early milestone in the Industrial Revolution.
A special What's Your Black Country Name guide will be available from Sandwell libraries from Monday, July 14. The guide gives a selection of Black Country words and shows you how to find your true Black Country name. The guide costs 60p or two for a £1 and proceeds will go to the friends groups in each Sandwell library to provide funds for local history events in their areas.
Sandwell's libraries are putting on a host of events ranging from food and ale-tasting, talks on Black Country sporting heroes and exhibitions about the region's rich heritage throughout July.
On July 14, Hill Top Library is inviting people to join in with "tay and caerke" while Tipton Library has a dialect poetry competition with performances from local schools.
At Cradley Heath Library, visitors can get stuck into faggots and paes, gray paes and baercon, grorty puddin' and bread pudding on Monday, July 14.
Staff at Great Bridge Library are using Black Country Day to help raise money for Acorns Children's Hospice by holding a Best of the Black Country Variety Show from 7pm to 9.30pm. Tickets cost £3.
On Saturday July 19 there is a Black Country Food Day at Tipton Library, when visitors can try local delicacies, bring along their own family recipes and listen to music and poetry from local artists from 10.30am to 1pm.
And at Glebefields Library visitors can enjoy a photography exhibition from July 14 to 21, showing old images of Tipton.
Other Black Country Festival events include:
Dudley claims to be the unofficial capital of the Black Country and Stone Street Square in the town centre will be the focal point of celebrations on Saturday, July 12.
Running from noon until 7.30pm there will family entertainment including live music, street entertainers, a poets' corner and a number of Black Country themed arts and crafts stalls.
Live music will include performances from the Empty Can, who recently made the charts with their Black Country anthem called I Vow to Thee Black Country. They will be joined by Black Country Gaz, Lumi HD, Vix and Her Mischiefs, Flat Stanley, Target by Numbers and Jess Silk. Other performers will include African drummers Fanga Drum 'n' Dance and marching band Comets Performance Ensemble.
Event organiser, Garry Sawers, who performs as Black Country Gaz, said, "Venues across Dudley town centre are getting behind the Black Country Festival and many shops and pubs are now displaying the Black Country flag and posters about the activities on offer. The Stone Street event on July 12 promises to be one to remember and we hope to see as many people there as possible enjoying the free entertainment to help celebrate Black Country Day in style."
Councillor Pete Lowe, deputy leader of Dudley Council said, "I am so proud of how the whole Black Country has pulled together to organise these events across the region. The Black Country Festival is a celebration of all that is great and good about our area, and we are absolutely delighted to be backing this day.
"I thoroughly encourage people to go along and get involved." Elsewhere in Dudley the arcade promenade will be decorated with bunting, balloons and flags to celebrate all things Black Country and there will be free face painting and balloon modelling for children from 11am to 4pm.
Xperience Games will also be holding trading card games demonstrations and free raffle tickets will be up for grabs for anyone making a purchase in the arcade on the day with great prizes on offer. Raffle prizes include celebration cake from Wollaston Bakery, breakfast for four people at The London Grill, T-shirt and trousers from G&R Fashions, a Ben10 toy from the Arcade Toyshop, game card packs from Xperience Games and DVDs from Premier Entertainment. The raffle will be drawn on Monday July 14.
Fizzog, with Mrs Barbara Nice, perform in Another One Night Stand at Brierley Hill Civic Hall, 7.30pm, Saturday, July 12 (call 07757 424618 for tickets).
Black Country Celebration Day takes place at Summerhill Community Centre, Coseley, 11am till evening, Saturday July 12 (0121 530 1420).
There will be live music and a display of the town's history at Somers Square, Halesowen, July 12, from midday until evening, and renowned author Dr Terry Daniels' will give a talk on Our Black Country at Langley Library, Monday July 14, 10.30pm to 11.30pm.
Corbyns Bromley Tenants and Residents Association host a Summer Fair at the Dell Stadium, Pensnett on Sunday, July 13 from 1pm to 5pm, and there will be a celebration of Black Country poetry and the spoken word, featuring Heather Wastie, Billy Spakemon, Brendan Hawthorne, Dave Reeves, at the Red House Glass Cone, Stourbridge, Sunday, July 13.
For more details of these and other events go to www.black countryfest ival.com.
Let us know what you get up to this Black Country Day. Send your pictures and information to us at the usual address, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.