Knowing that Helen is a regular attendee at British music festivals, one of our members, Beth, wrote in to say how much she enjoyed the Cropredy Music Festival. We asked her to tell us more, and this is her account of the 2016 event.
Having enjoyed many ‘folk' music concerts and a day visit to Shrewsbury Folk Festival, we decided to enjoy the complete experience this summer by camping on site at Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival.
When I say ‘camping' you should know that this happens in an up-to-date campervan. Significantly, providing an off the floor bed, but not full bathroom facilities!
We had booked well in advance and knew that we needed to arrive together (with my sister and her husband who tow a caravan) if we wanted to be pitched next to each other. Right from the first sight of a steward we were impressed with the organisation. The stewards guided us to our pitching area, advised on the car and caravan and allowed space for sun canopies or awning if wanted. The field was marked out with white lines showing clearly the areas to keep free for emergency vehicles, if needed.
It was sunny. Which helped.
Whilst the facilities are less basic than in the average tent, travelling in a campervan is a bit like taking carry-on luggage only. The locker where I store my clothes is roughly the same size as a carry-on bag and I have learned to travel luxuriously light! Choosing a base colour and planning layers seems to work. Leaving at home lovely, huge, coloured sweaters that don’t fit comfortably under the essential cagoule is hard to do but crucial. In a small space (suitcase or campervan) everything has to justify its space!
Although our campervan has a good leisure battery we are not used to camping without electric hook up so it is worth planning to minimise battery use. We took a separate battery-operated lantern and bought a separate charge unit for phones and tablets. Priority was to keep the fridge going in the surprisingly warm UK August weather. Cool white wine is helpful to my happiness.
Between us we took food for the whole festival, not knowing how good, but busy, the village shop would be. The walk into the village of Cropredy could be enjoyed by canal, passing the entrepreneurial barge-side cafés as we ambled along with many of the other 20,000 festival people. Once there we discovered that the whole village had bought into the festival, the church serving breakfasts and coffee at small cost, and towards the church building fund.
The temporary toilets on the festival site were plentiful, clean and not without loo paper. There could be a long walk for those camping in certain fields but we were in a good place. The showers had plenty of hot water and I met some interesting people to talk to in the very long queues. We counted about 22 showers, some in the disabled access field (mobility scooters were available for pre-planned hire and looked impressively powerful on the roughly grassed and sloping fields) but, with 20,000 festival-goers on site there were always going to be shower queues.
There is only one stage at Cropredy; everyone who is invited plays on the main stage, for 30 minutes or for 2 hours and 30 minutes. Music genre could not always be defined but the standard was always very high (trust me, I am a music teacher). The arena field slopes, like an auditorium, and people take their own camping-style chairs (we took two Thermarest Treo chairs – see photo) and grab a good spot. We sat near young families, teenagers (at Cropredy with mum and dad but too cool to sit with them), elderly couples or a bunch of friends – who had been there from the first ever festival!
Our Thermarest Treo chairs
We heard a great mix of amazing music, relaxed in the family atmosphere and wondered why we hadn’t come before!
Around the arena field are many outlets selling good coffee, good food (gluten-free fish recipes to die for), crafts, festival-style clothing (sorry but am not going there!) and of course the bar.
Bring your children, and their children, and the family dog(s). Everyone seems to do so.
The dress style mix was fabulous to behold… the lovely husband texted me to tell me where he had put our chairs, saying I would spot him by his sunhat. At folk festivals, so it seemed to me, everyone wears hats – so that was interesting!
We are going again next year. The four of us. Fairport Convention will be 50. Some of us are eying up the fab disability scooters.
The organization was so good that I checked with a steward about last day ‘leaving in the morning' and was there a rule? “Well,” she said, “I would wait until your driver is sober.”
Thanks Beth! We're definitely keen to try out Cropredy for ourselves next year!