Friday, 17 September 2021

Village unveils event celebrating local music

A FAMILY music festival is set to be held in Watlington in June.

A FAMILY music festival is set to be held in Watlington in June.

The two-day Beacon Festival is scheduled to take place during the summer solstice at Watlington Hill Farm following the success of a one-day festival held there to celebrate the Queen?s diamond jubilee last year. An application for an entertainments licence is to be made to South Oxfordshire District Council.

About 2,000 people could attend the event, which would offer camping facilities.

The main stage would host a range of music including rock and tribute bands while an open mic stage would showcase acoustic music. There would also be an electronic tent.

Last year?s festival was free but there will be a charge to attend this year?s event. Any profits will be donated to local charities and clubs nominated by residents.

Organiser Lindsay Howard-Dean, who runs the farm, said: "We want it to be family- orientated and to display local talent and businesses. There will be workshops, dance clubs and youth group performances and as many local food vendors and stallholders as possible. It really is quite diverse with a little bit of something for everyone."

Mrs Howard-Dean, 30, has happy memories of the Music on the Hill festival which used to take place on the farm when she was a child and she hopes to provide her first baby, who is due next month, with a similar experience.

She said: "It?s kind of a tribute to Music on the Hill because we know it is greatly missed by the community. There was such a fantastic atmosphere at last year?s Beacon Festival, which showed the very strong community spirit that Watlington has.

"As a little country town, there isn?t that much for all the family to enjoy and we thought Watlington needed something of its own."

Three years ago, she took over running the farm from her parents. Her mother Rosemary still owns it but her father Richard died in November. The 35-acre farm has 12 horses and a herd of Highland cows which help with the management of the farm. Two adults with learning difficulties live on the farm as part of Oxfordshire County Council?s shared lives scheme.

Mrs Howard-Dean, who works as a facilitator for Son-Rise, a home-based programme for children with autism spectrum disorders, has assembled a committee to organise the festival.

She said: "Everyone else is more worried about all the work than I am. We know it?s possible and the extra numbers will make it more atmospheric. We had a really good turnout last year, although we lost an awful lot of workshops and stalls because there was not enough cover for everybody.

"Some people went home looking like drowned rats but they all said they had a great time and they would come back."

Mrs Howard-Dean, whose husband Tim, an electrician, plays bass in a band, hopes more people will come forward to help organise the event and to perform.

She said: "I?d like to hear from dance groups, bands, all sorts of performers, as well as people who can volunteer over the weekend."

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