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Tenterden folk Sat 2nd b

18th October 2021

Tenterden Folk Festival News

2021 has been a very strange and very difficult year for all folk clubs, venues, performers, audiences and everyone involved in the folk scene. In mid-September we were looking forward to what we hoped would be a near normal Tenterden Folk Festival 2021 and making the final preparations.

What happened next could have been a disaster for the festival but thanks to the dedication of our guest artists, Morris sides, stallholders, volunteers and our supporters, the festival went ahead and was a success. The sudden fuel problems mainly affected London and the south-east but our guest artists from as far afield as Newcastle, Liverpool, The Peak District, Derbyshire and even Ireland, braved setting out and driving up to 500 miles not knowing if they would get fuel to complete their journeys to Tenterden or if they would get back home afterwards. Their attitudes where always the show must go on.

On a personal note, in the few days before the festival I tried every fuel station in Ashford and Tenterden but could not get any diesel. I’d got to the stage where I had the fuel to get into Tenterden from Ashford about three more times when John at the William Caxton phoned me to say he had a cancellation and had a B&B room available for the festival period so I took it without delay. The extra-large marquees for the Covid safe stalls were going up on Tuesday and Wednesday and the workforce started to arrive on Wednesday. Some stewards had to drop out as they could not get fuel, so we were we expecting to be short staffed over the weekend. For the first time ever we had trouble with youths round the marquees over night and I was called by the CCTV monitoring station in Ashford to say that youths had broken in to the empty marquees. Our security guards spent the evenings and nights chasing them back out again and the police attended a couple of times. Luckily we were able to add extra security and there was only minor damage and one table went missing at the end of the festival.

The festival got off to a great start with a popular and well attended Thursday evening concert and numbers built further on Friday. Even the barn dance was reasonable well attended and that had been the event I had been most worried about with the possibility of people not wanting to come in close contact with strangers. Then came Saturday, a day I will never forget. Torrential rain and winds. It was too bad for most of the Morris sides to dance outdoors and there were a couple of slips and falls. By late morning we took the decision to cancel the procession on health and safety grounds. Several Morris sides agreed to dance in the extra large marquee, which actually worked reasonably well. This was only the second time in 28 years that we had cancelled the procession. All the indoor events on Saturday and Sunday went very well and there was dancing outside on Sunday.

A small number of guests did not make it to the festival not necessarily due to Covid or fuel problems but due to other personal issues and other guests filled these spots. Monday was the main clear up day and by the end of it all the committee and volunteers were completely exhausted. Everyone managed to get off the campsite with only one or two needing help and most importantly all the guest artists and volunteers managed to get the fuel to get home although I know it was a close call for some of them. I hope most of these problems did not affect what the public and ticketholders saw and did not affect your enjoyment of a far from normal Tenterden Folk Festival. Financially we will have made a loss this year and have had to use some of our cash reserves. Will we do it again? Of course we will, but we will make a few changes based on what we learnt this year. Thank you everyone.

Alan Castle

Festival Director of Tenterden Folk Festival

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The 30th Tenterden Folk Festival

Tenterden Folk Festival, the independant folk festival in the Weald of Kent