And a lovely sight it was as people came together to sing, dance and celebrate folk music – most for the first time since lockdown restrictions were eased.
The Wickham Festival returned on Thursday for a four-day folk music extravaganza to fields off Blind Lane after a year break for Covid.
Although battling bad weather with heavy rain much of Thursday and some on Friday, plus in the early hours of Saturday, the organisers made sure the festival went ahead with big acts such as Van Morrison and Deacon Blue playing on Saturday night.
And the wet weather did not just pose a problem for campers, many of whom were in tents, it also saw the delay of the build of the main stage, meaning the contactor did not complete it in time, with acts forced on to the smaller covered stages.
However the weather did not seem to dampen spirits. With Seth Lakeman, then Nick Lowe, Van Morrison and Deacon Blue delighting crowds on the main stage on Staurday, while Eliza Carthy & Band and Merry Hell captivated fans on the secondary stage.
Anna Kemp, 36, had travelled from her home in Barnstaple for the event.
She said: ‘It is absolutely brilliant. I have been camping and it’s a bit of a walk to the main stage but I am very happy. It has been so nice to be here.’
Friends Colin McAndrew and Keith Budd had come from closer afield for the event.
Colin, from Worthing, and Keith, from Chichester, said they were feeling confident about being back at larger events after they both contracted Covid in December and recovered plus they have both had their jabs,.
Colin, 62, was in intensive care in December for a week but said he was delighted to back out on the live music scene.
Colin said: ‘I have had it (Covid) and I have had my double vaccinations. Everyone here will have had their jabs. I feel safe. It is a shame to see the big stage out of action but whatever happens, we are enjoying things,’
Keith, 60, said: ‘The Dohl Foundation was great. I have been to hundreds of festivals but it is my first time here and my first one in two years. It is great to be back .’
Coming from even closer were next door neighbours the Fairchild family, who live in Blind Lane, who were with their friend the Hicks, from Bristol.
Ros Fairchild, who moved in next to the festival last October, said: ‘It has been brilliant. We don’t mind it. It is quite fun living next door to such a great festival.’
Wickham Festival has previously won awards for its family-friendly atmosphere – with stalls and activities such as bouncy castles, face painting and story time for the younger attendees, and families were still in attendance despite the mud and bad weather.
Lisa Morrell, was camping with her family, including young children Thea, five and Alfie, eight months.
She said: ‘It has been lovely, the organisers have done a brilliant job with what they have come up against. It has been hard for them but it is so good to be at a festival, especially after the last two years.’
Like every year, the festival employed a huge army of volunteers to help steward, marshal and litter pick.
Roy Weedon, 69, and Caroline Jones, 63, from Suffolk were among the returning volunteers.
Roy said: ‘We came here the last year it was held and we really enjoyed it. The people are brilliant and the music is outstanding.’
A fleet of tractors were on hand at the end of the night to pull cars out of the mud.
The music continues on Sunday with acts such as the Fairport Convention, Lindisfarne and The South all due to perform. For more go to wickhamfestival.co.uk/