Volunteer army puts the Solfest musicians on the festival stage
Last updated at 12:11, Friday, 16 August 2013
Solfest may be about the music for some, but for others it’s all about the people.
The three-day annual music festival at Tarns, near Aspatria, takes place from August 23 to August 25.
It is celebrating its 10th birthday this year and has a line-up that includes Maximo Park, Flogging Molly, DJ Yoda, Krafty Kuts and Utah Saints.
But it would not happen without a dedicated band of volunteers behind the scenes.
Work has already started to transform the fields near Aspatria.
The event’s organising committee has been working on the event for almost 12 months.
The event’s founding chairman Simon Kay, 39, of Abbeytown, has been re-elected for the milestone festival.
He was one of the originators of the festival which attracted 1,500 people in 2003.
Since then Solfest has become one of West Cumbria’s most successful events.
It prides itself on being a family event, according to Tom Kay, a festival spokesman and Simon’s brother.
He said: “We have everything from punk for the old rockers, through dance music to groups like The Singing Kettle for the children.”
Simon has been joined on the committee this year by Dave Camlin, a former chairman, while founder members Joanne and Alwyn Braniff, of Workington, are returning in advisory roles.
The committee is supported by about 500 volunteers.
Dave said: “The festival really brings people together. Our volunteers include teenagers and pensioners and many people in between.
“They come because they want to be part of the festival. The ethos is about people coming together at a key social gathering of the year.
“There’s an amazing army of inspirational volunteers right across the festival from stewards and labourers.
“Even the organising committee are volunteers, and the technicians on the Drystone Stage are all students and graduates from Paul McCartney’s Institute for the Performing Arts in Liverpool who give their time for free because the festival is somewhere they can recharge their batteries while doing the work they love.”
As well as volunteers on the ground, there are also local artists helping to turn the farmland into a giant festival playground.
Dave added: “It’s not all about the music as the different stages cater for different tastes.
“Many people come just for the friendly atmosphere, and the fact that you get all sections of the community here, side by side, in one big party.
“I am always amazed at how well everyone settles in to being part of this huge temporary community, and how much effort so many people are prepared to make so that each year’s event is really special.
“Each year we take a different theme for the Drystone Stage. Last year it was the Solway sunset and this year we’re going for an earthy, woodland feel.
“Carlisle visual artist Wendy Hirst is designing and making us a huge tree for the stage backdrop, and Phil Bradley’s willow sculptures will bring the stage to life.”
Festival-goers can also get involved with a community musical.
Students from the Sage Gateshead’s community music course will be teaching songs as part of workshops over the weekend. They are also available to download and learn before the festival kicks off.
Allerdale council has donated £200 towards the musical.
Dave said: “This year, we’re celebrating the endangered ash tree. with a narrative song cycle that everyone can join in with.
“Joining in with music is good for you. It lifts your spirits and improves your state of mind, so we’re hoping lots of people come and join in.
“It’s great looking out on a whole field full of people singing together, smiling with each other and having a laugh. I don’t think we get enough opportunities to do that in our everyday lives, but that’s what makes Solfest so special.
“It’s like stepping out of the everyday into a warm and welcoming community where everyone just wants to have fun and relax. It’s a great thing to be part of.”
First published at 12:02, Friday, 16 August 2013
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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