Festival will bring a much-needed boost to the town

Sidmouth folk festival 2016. Ref shs 31-16TI 5703. Picture: Terry Ife

Plans have been drawn up for a scaled back Folk Festival this year - Credit: Terry Ife

In my capacity as organiser for the cricket club Folk Week parking, I have received an update from the festival committee and I’m able to shed some light on the press release from last week.

The good news is that a festival will happen! This is great news for Sidmouth, in my opinion, although I am aware of certain people being opposed to a festival taking place this year. However, the event is scaled down from the usual offering and they are calling it a ‘celebration of Sidmouth Folk Festival.’ This is because current conditions do not allow them to plan for or run their normal full-scale event. I’m sure that, by the end of July, people will be able to reflect the mood of the country which will very much depend on where we are with the pandemic.

The key points are that the festival will be based around Blackmore Gardens and The Ham. In Blackmore Gardens there will be a series of ticketed high profile concerts in the evenings from July 31 to August 6 inclusive. There will be a range of family entertainment during the day, including street theatre and musical performances. The concerts will be open air to reflect the pandemic circumstances. The festival and their supporters stated preference for this type of event. In addition there will be catering and bar facilities at both venues. Also at The Ham there will be plenty of free entertainment during the day. There will sensibly be no large enclosed Ham Marquee this year.

Many regular festival goers have apparently already reserved accommodation in the area in anticipation that the event will be running this year. It is expected that many of them will firm up their bookings and therefore provide the town with much of its normal Folk Week atmosphere and excitement, not to mention a much-needed boost to local businesses, organisations and traders. At the cricket club we have about 10 spaces left for camper van parking at the time of writing.

There will not be a Bulverton Marquee or campsite this year. 2021 tickets, which had already been rolled over from 2020, will be rolled over again to 2022, including those for the pre-festival Shows featuring Steeleye Span and The Fisherman's Friends, who have both agreed to be the pre-festival concerts in 2022. The festival committee will announce further details of the concert line-ups, other artists and acts when tickets go on sale on May 24. This will allow them to take account of the stage three government roadmap decisions which are due to be announced on May 17.

On to other local matters. We have had a very dry April and local gardeners are no doubt praying for some rain soon. Hopefully they will get it during the night one day! It is amazing to see how green the area is with very little rain. The cold nights and early morning dew no doubt are a major reason for that.

The sporting highlight last weekend had to be Exeter Chiefs win at Bristol Bears. The first half in particular was a fine advert for rugby with high intensity play being the order of the day. On the football front, Exeter City managed three goalless draws in a week as they saw their play off hopes recede. A good win in the cricket for Somerset at Leicestershire and a fine performance from Dom Bess with six second innings wickets as Yorkshire won at Sussex. In horse racing the Bryony Frost and Frodon combination won on the final day of the National Hunt season at Sandown Park. What a season the female jockeys have had. However a huge cloud hangs over the sport after Lorna Brooke died after a fall at Taunton. So sad. I don’t think there is a sport where the highs and lows are so extreme.

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