In just two weeks time, Beat-Herder will celebrate its tenth anniversary.
It promises to be a birthday celebration like no other. One weekend to commemorate a decade of music, memories and merriment.
In 10 years, Beat-Herder has become more than a festival in these parts, it has become an institution.
Born out of the beautiful Ribble Valley countryside, its reputation has grown while its core value has remained the same – give the people what they want.
For some this year it will be The Fortress, The Ring, Toil Trees, The Beat-Herder Stage or maybe the Working Men’s Club and a spot of Beat-Herder’s Got Talent.
For others it will be the festival’s uniqueness, its charm, its hidden treasures, the never-ending surprises. For many, it will quite simply be the people.
For co-founder Nick Chambers, it will be the thousands of smiling faces he’ll see departing the campsite Monday morning.
And it’s for that reason he and his team are currently working harder than ever to make ‘Number 10’ the best yet.
“It doesn’t get any busier than this right now,” he said. “This is the fun time, when you put all the bits together. It’s going really well. We’re all excited for number ten. It’s always great to organise but I think there’s been even bigger smiles this year given the occasion.”
And in just two weeks time,thousands of excited revellers will be making the annual pilgrimage to Sawley to join in this very special occasion. Those that have been before, have some idea of what to expect. Those who haven’t, are embarking on what will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of their year.
Last year’s event was a huge success. So successful in fact, the festival won the “Extra Festival Activity Award” at the UK Festival Awards.
“That was unbelievable for us,” said Nick. “The award is for a festival that has paid great attention to detail and created an unforgettable festival experience. When you think about every festival in the country and we’ve come top, it’s unbelievable.
“When we were doing number nine we weren’t thinking ‘oh crikey, it’s number 10 next’. We always concentrate on the year we’re doing, putting everything we can into making that particular one as special for everybody. We didn’t hold anything back last year because we wanted to make number 10 different. We went all out and it was amazing. We had great weather, some of the sights and sounds were incredible and we had amazing feedback from everyone.”
Speaking with Nick, it’s easy to see just how much the festival means to him and his five fellow co-founders, who all went to the same school and who, together, make up the core of the Beat-Herder team.
“We’ve always taken great pride in Beat-Herder. It’s not an ego thing, it’s envisioning what we want to see at our dream festival and then trying to make that happen. We are immensely proud of it but we always want to do better. We’re always reviewing and looking back and thinking what could we tweak or what could we add that we haven’t had before.”
Basement Jaxx, The Levellers, The Parov Stelar Band and Martha Reeves and The Vandellas are just some of the names who will be joining in this year’s celebrations and Nick said they were over moon with the lineup.
“There are bands coming that are stopping in on world tours like Parov Stelar. Martha Reeves is flying in on her birthday. Basement Jaxx, who we’ve always wanted – they’re coming to Sawley! It’s crazy! If this was on our doorstep when we were in our late teens, we’d have been there every week. It’s just unreal. Even down to getting Clitheroe Pop Choir engaged in it, it’s a massive spread of good acts. Good Foxy, they’re coming, Lancashire Hotpots as well. There’s such a good mix. Massive acts and massive DJs. Every venue has just got great music on.”
There’s certainly more to Beat-Herder than the music though.
“Nowhere at the festival is a standard tent with a stage in it on its own,” said Nick. “If you see something at Beat-Herder, we’ve made it – from growing the flowers from seeds to making the banners and doing the fencing. It’s not just a case of let’s put a tent and a stage up and everyone will just go in there. It’s making something much more special, from the bands that are playing, right down to the venue that you are stood in.
“Take The Fortress as an example. That could have been a normal dance tent but we’ve got a 60ft square, 30ft tall castle with fire coming out of the top, balconies, everything. And that’s just down to thinking about where people will be stood and what they will see, not ‘let’s just get these bands on and that’ll do’. We’ve put that much effort into making the site, making it interesting, putting little secret surprises everywhere.
“Afterwards is when we get our biggest smiles. It’s incredible when you see all the comments on Facebook. When you see thousands of people and they’re all saying what an amazing weekend they’ve had, talking about how it’s been the highlight of their year or the best time of their life. That’s it for us.”
And it’s not just the young ones waxing lyrical.
“I remember one year, a guy brought his mum from the nursing home,” recalls Nick. “I think she was 92. We gave her a tour and she absolutely loved it. But I mean how couldn’t you. It’s so colourful. Everywhere you look, there’s something going on. There’s never a dull moment at Beat-Herder.”
Never a truer word spoken.
Beat-Herder runs from Friday to Sunday, July 17th to 19th. For more information go to www.beatherder.co.uk.