When we celebrated our 25th anniversary in 2004, we asked celebrities for their memories of performing in Buxton and received some warm responses. These together with other Happy Birthday messages are reprinted here.
"A 'Happy Birthday' good wish.
Buxton is a beautiful surprise lurking as it does within the Peak District and yet with the monumental feel of other spas in more open country. I have been coming there to sing ever since the 50's and am always impressed by the neo-classical architecture and the liveliness of the entertainment.
I was in Buxton to judge that TV programme in which people do a watercolour at breakneck speed. The tried hard but were far behind the image itself - one of the great greenhouses and I think a bandstand in the foreground. Buxton! Long may it flourish."
"Sending you tattifelarious and plumpshus greetings for a wonderful, wonderfully witty and hilarious Festival.
"My very first performance was at the Opera House when I was about six. It was the panto song-sheet and I was given a pot of jam. A few years ago I returned to the Opera House and played Professor Marcus in 'The Ladykillers' - a stage version of the film I'd seen in the Opera House in the Sixties. For that - two pots of jam. My professional career is, as you see, centred round Buxton.
But my professional career really started on the Edinburgh Fringe but only because the Buxton Fringe didn't then exist.
I love Buxton and where better to be than Buxton in July? I should know because my first breaths were taken in Buxton in July."
"My abiding memory of Buxton is the handle dropping off the dressing room door, locking me in, and someone having to hand me a screw driver through the window so I could let myself out!"
Lesley Garrett made her Buxton Festival debut in 1981 and has an affection for both the Festival and the Fringe.
"My most treasured memory of the summer of 1981 has to be working with the legendary Renato Capecchi, who had to be persuaded (miraculously by Anthony Hose and Malcolm Fraser) to perform Geronimo in Cimarosa's 'The Secret Marriage' IN ENGLISH. I was so eager to learn everything I could from this comic genius that one day he snapped at me 'Lezlee, you are tu cloza. I musta hava uno metre tu be funnee'. With that he placed me firmly at arms length and patting me on the head gave me the first of many lessons in comic timing.
Happy Birthday Buxton Fringe.... And thank you for the wonderful memories."
"Queen of country comedy"
From the desk of Tina C. Raunch Ranch, Tennessee:
"When, like me, you are used to playing stadium shows attended by thousands of faceless folks, the opportunity to play a small pretty town in the UK attended by real, live, honest to goodness (and let's face it, often drunk) people is such a thrill. When I cast my mind back to playing in a public house during the Buxton Festival, I have a mental image of something a little like an AA meeting in a setting from a WWII English drama - so cute, just like a documentary! I'll never forget getting out of my winnebego in a car park, turning right at the Mike Hunt's Carpet shop and into the warm, beery, fuggy atmosphere of the Mason's Arms. I'm aware that I may be a little patronising but honestly it's OK because I love all you Derbyshire-type folks so much.
PS Happy birthday Buxton! - and can I play the Opera House next time?"
The stand-up comedian has appeared on the Fringe twice, once as Vladimir McTavish and once in 2001 as football manager, Bob Doolally. Here he remembers his first visit.
"I was performing in a double-act with a good friend of mine, Gez Casey, who later went on to tea-time TV fame as a long-running character in 'Byker Grove'. We were due to play three nights in Buxton. We had an excellent venue and were booked into a charming guest-house run by a gentleman with one arm, who explained to us at length how to turn off the burglar alarm should we be in last at night.
However, our second-night show had to be cancelled as our venue had been double-booked with a going-away party for a group of Spanish exchange students which appeared to take the form of some kind of adolescent-crisis-cum-disco, and the place was teaming with drunk 15-year-olds, snogging or throwing-up in the toilets.
Fortunately for us, Gez's days as a pre-teen sex symbol were still in the future, and we were able to escape to the pub where we proceeded to drink heavily. Several hours and several more pints later, we staggered out of the residents' bar of a local hotel where we had been involved in some kind of bizarre drinking game with the cast of a sketch show called 'Edward the Deckchair'.
We eventually arrived outside our B&B at 3.30am, only to find we had lost our key. We had no alternative but to wake the proprietor who attempted to open the door AND turn off the fire-alarm with one arm. This he was unable to do without waking up all of the other guests, who were all visiting Buxton for much more wholesome pursuits!
Perhaps next time I visit Buxton, I too should only take the waters. Good luck with this year's Fringe!"
"Happy Birthday Buxton Festival Fringe! Long may you prosper, with love and every good wish
Marilyn Cutts (Fascinating Aida)"
"Best of luck to Buxton Festival Fringe. The best of Festivals always attracts additional talent and I know that the Fringe has grown with the Festival itself."
General manager of the Buxton Opera House
"The Fringe is a real asset to the town and the Festival - we wouldn't like to be without it! Congratulations on the first 25 years".
Artistic director of the Buxton Festival
"The Fringe is the most fantastic thing for the Festival to have. The two mutually help each other and we are delighted that so much is going on around the frame of our work... We love the fact that there are people who are in town purely to see Fringe events. It all helps the buzz in the town. It is a mutual statement of maturity if you like... The Festival and the Fringe are there for each other. It seems to be a uniquely British thing - that joy in its independence is the Fringe's strength really, but of course at the same time a Fringe, by its very definition, needs to have a Festival and we are very delighted to sit alongside."