Fun in the sun, supper in the rain, brilliant music, a woolly "bombing" … and the unwelcome visit by Big Bertha! Here are some "Postcards from the Ledge", impressions of Cropredy 2014 from festival veterans Mark Barton and Jenny Wilding, reporting for FolkCast.
|Watching you watching them… All eyes front on the main music field at Cropredy.|
|Smoke on the Ensemble|
|Breakfast on the bank with the Canoe Club|
|Breakfast is served!|
|Adderbury Morris Men and a yarn bomb|
|Busker Tim Moon|
Babba tells the story behind life in the village during the Cropredy festival weekend.
Fairport's Cropredy Convention is unique amongst music festivals for being completely entwined with the local community. So much so that the weekend is officially started by the ringing of the Festival Bell in the tower of St Mary's Church, just across the fields from the main arena. The bell was funded in part from contributions made by festival-goers and by fundraising gigs by Fairport Convention. In years past, similar collections taken up from the Festival audience have helped to purchase a sports field, tennis courts, and a sports pavilion with bar, changing rooms and showers.
During the Festival, many events take place in Cropredy, often to raise funds for local groups. So this year there was a concert in the church on Thursday lunchtime to support repairs to the building, a flea market by the canal dock, a record and book sale on the village green, a car boot sale on the Sports Field, a barbecue at the pavilion and lots more to enjoy.
Friendly festive folk
Cropredy itself is a short stroll from the Festival site, and there's no problem leaving and re-entering the arena or any of the camping fields, so those wanting a break from the music can spend a peaceful half an hour or so wandering the village streets and deciding exactly which of the lovely honey-coloured stone cottages they would buy if they had the money.
If you see a resident of Cropredy on your way, they'll usually smile and say "Hello", because the villagers are some of the most friendly people I know. And at the end of a walk, why not a beer at one of the two village pubs? Both of these - the Red Lion and the Brasenose - are useful amenities and are dependent on the extra trade the Festival brings for their continued existence.
Then there's breakfast ... some of the villagers rise early to start cooking for the many who flock into Cropredy to eat breakfast in the Village Hall, The Red Lion, The Brasenose, The Canoe Club, The School and other venues, where profits will go to some local good cause.
|A villager and friend...|
For at least four days a year (but probably much more often than that), it seems that all the residents of Cropredy and nearby Williamscot go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome and at their ease while we enjoy our annual "weekend in the country". For those of us who have been returning here for more than thirty years, it's almost as if, for just one very special weekend each year, it's "our" village, too.
And what do we bring, we 20,000 who arrive amongst the 750 Cropredy villagers every August? A traffic jam through Williamscot on Thursday morning, a temporary one-way system through Cropredy to cope with the pressure on its country roads, trucks bringing equipment on and off site for ten days before and ten days afterwards, and all the litter a large crowd can generate. So here's a big thanks from me, you lovely people of Cropredy and Williamscot, for all the welcoming smiles, all the greetings, all the full English breakfasts in the sunshine and all the fun, too. You're the best - and your Festival is the finest, friendliest musical event in all the land!
|Well, have you?|