THE first ever North Devon Festival of Pottery will be celebrating the regions ceramic heritage and its links across the pond next week. It runs from Monday right though until Sunday next week (September 16-22), with a series of events paying homage to what was once a major North Devon industry, as well as celebrate its historic pottery connections with New England. Nautical, trading and cultural links across the Atlantic in the 17th century all developed in tandem with the exports of local pottery, with North Devon ware found in some of the earliest American settlements. The festival covers several venues, including the Arts Centre at Bideford Quay, Burton Art Gallery and Bideford Pannier Market, with workshops, talks, demonstrations and pottery shopping opportunities. It came about after Philip Leach, grandson of famous potter Bernard Leach, approached organiser John Edgeler with the idea of hosting a themed pottery firing and then grew from there. Friday, September 20 will see a live wood firing of the kiln in Victoria Park at 2pm, featuring work by numerous local and visiting potters. Special visitors for the festival will be leading Virginia potter Michelle Erickson, plus academics from New England specialising in the early history of the settlement at Jamestown. These visitors will take part in an international symposium on the Saturday, plus various events, along with top Dutch potter Niek Hoogland. The Friday and Saturday will see plenty of family and childrens activities, including historical re-enactments, food tastings, folk music and dance at the Pannier Market on Friday from 11am, plus fish kite making and flying, George the Pie Rat and family fun at Victoria Park on the Saturday from 1pm. The Burton will be hosting throw a pot sessions with tuition from West Country potters on Saturday from 2pm. For more information go to http://anewenglandcargo.wordpress.com or call 01242 602319.