What's happening?

Shrewsbury Folk Festival 2011
31 Aug 2011
by Rhea Alton

After four days at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival at the West Mid Showground in Shrewsbury I am tired, a little achy, in much need of a long shower but very very happy.

The whole event has been really wonderful, especially for me going as a family with a seven-month old – the first time we have camped with a baby and the first time we have taken him to any sort of event like this.

To start with the Shrewsbury Folk Festival caters for all ages, from tiny babies to Grandparents, and everyone has a thoroughly good time.

We bought my in-laws tickets for the Saturday as a birthday present. My father-in-law, who is 70 next January, said he knew he was going to love the atmosphere but he wasn’t sure about the performers because he was very fond of folk as a younger man and knows “times do change”.

But speaking to him today he and my mother-in-law had a wonderful time, they loved the atmosphere, they loved the performers, the real ale bar AND tent went down a storm and my mother-in-law had “the best curry I have ever had” from the food area. All in all a successful birthday present!

But I agree with them, we have had a great weekend and baby George also loved it. Today when he began to grumble at the tent I pushed the buggy to the village stage and George watched intently as we were entertained by clog dancing, shanty dancing and of course Morris dancing.

The children’s activity tent was always packed and Professor Panic and the Panic Family Circus went down an absolute storm with the youngsters. The children’s programme was bigger than ever with crafts, dance, music, drama, storytelling and much more…and the lantern procession of youngsters with their hand-made lanterns through the showground was wonderful.

My husband and I enjoyed all aspects, again a mention for the real ale bar and tent, a special mention for The Wilsons and Bellowhead (my favourites this year) and an extra special mention for the dozens of stewards dotted around the showground, always wearing a smile and always happy to help.

In fact, everyone was always wearing a smile, the artists, the festival goers, even the people keeping the toilets stocked with paper and toilet roll. This is what makes the folk festival so special and what makes people want to return time and time again.

The organisers limit the numbers and this year the festival sold out in a small space of time. But the showground is not overcrowded, there is enough room for everyone’s tent without being on top of each other and you do not spend half the weekend in a queue for food or drink.

Don’t get me wrong – there are queues, but they are not ‘I’ve been standing here so long my legs are numb’ queues. In fact queues often form for the venues, especially the main stage, and if you are not quick you risk not getting in…..but there is a big screen outside the main stage to make sure you still get to see and hear what is going on.

As I left the showground today a steward on the exit gate made me stop and wind down my window so he could ask me if I had had a good time and if I would be coming again next year! My answers….YES…and….YES!