Three days of sheep-chaperoned fun, and all the good bits that people still really love about Glastonbury, just about sums up Ribble Valley’s fun-packed Beat-Herder Festival, writes Tony Dewhurst.
From humble beginnings, when one of the founder members ,Nick Chambers, recalled “selling tickets from a three- legged table in the middle of a field to a handful of people next to the A59”, this mid-summer party bash under the shadow of Pendle Hill has lost none of its do-it-yourself festival magic.
“Last year, I was standing at the top of the camping field and a guy said, ‘Beat Herder is better than Christmas...’– that is when you realise what it means to everybody and I did think back to that moment,” said Nick.
“Even though the folks who come don’t know us personally, they have trust in what we do and that’s really nice. People, I think, are tired of massive festivals, paying £200 for a ticket, getting lost in a crowd and stumping up £10 for a burger and a pint.
“They want to come to an event like Beat-Herder, which is more intimate – and a bit fairer and kinder. We want the festival to be a bookmark in people’s lives.”
From reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, disco master Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Roni Size, a Groove Armada DJ set, the Lancashire Hot Pots, Doctor and the Medics, there’s a musical dollop of sonic sound for any taste at Beat-Herder.
“When we were 18 we’d drive four hours to Glastonbury to see that stuff. Now we’ve got this epic party in the Ribble Valley, which I think is amazing,” said Nick.
“We do hope that we are seen as a positive dot on the Ribble Valley social calendar now. We understand what a beautiful area this is and we treat it with the utmost respect. We are not coming from London to infiltrate the area, we live down the road.
“Instead of big, corporate stands, last year we had Clitheroe Ladies’ Circle making jam, cakes and buns, and the portable toilets came from Barnoldswick!”
Set across a dozen stages, some buried in the Sawley Woods, the Beat-Herder art gurus have designed an old Victorian street (Quality Street), complete with functioning bookshops, sweetshops, a barbers and a chapel with a bell tower and stained glassed doors. “People have got married at Beat Herder, and had their stag and hen parties here,” added Nick.
“Last year the chapel was packed for the eleven o’clock Sunday service. Everybody dressed up, sang Eurthymics songs and danced on the pews.
“We’ve also got 300 Beat -Herder lifers, who all have Beat-Herder tattoos. We’ve opened up another field this year, for a new band stage and a bigger dance tent.
“Now all we need is three days of sunshine and everybody will be happy!”
The Beat-Herder Festival 2013, Sawley, near Clitheroe. July 5th to 7th. Tickets cost £105. For more information, visit www.beatherder.co.uk