Wickham Festival 2021: Organiser vows show will go on and return in 2022 despite bad weather problems this year
THE show must go on – that was the message from the organisers of the Wickham Festival as they battled rain, mud and stage building problems to hold their annual celebration of folk music.
The four-day long festival has been taking place for the last 15 years, and has been in fields off Blind Lane in Wickham since 2006.
It was cancelled last year due to Covid, so this year organiser Peter Chegwyn was determined to hold the festival and bring people together once again.
He said: ‘It has been a very tough festival to get on, there’s no denying that.
‘There has been Covid in the background, but we have also had an awful lot of rain and weather issues to contend with, but the show has gone on, and people have really appreciated being able to see their friends again and hear some lovely live music, but it hasn’t been easy.’
The bad weather on Thursday saw the build of the main stage fall through forcing acts such as Van Morrison, Deacon Blue, Lindisfarne and the Fairport Convention into the two smaller stages, which thankfully gave some shelter to the crowd as both stages were covered.
The rain continued for most of the weekend, turning the ground, which is usually crop fields, into a quagmire.
A fleet of six tractors were brought in to help get visitors’ cars out – and work will be taking place into next week to clear the fields.
However, despite the issues, Peter said that the festival will definitely be back, and that he was already booking acts such as the Waterboys, who were unable to perform this year due to travel restrictions.
He said: ‘It is not in our nature to cancel. The show must go on and it has – and it will be back next year.’
The festival attracted thousands of people, and the majority remained in good spirits over the event.
Friends Sean Carey, 30, from Waltham Chase, Ed Saunders, 36, from Caterham and Ben Millier, 32 from Bishop’s Waltham, all camped for the four days.
Ben said: ‘We have been going to festivals together for 15 years. There has been a lot of challenges at this one, but we have certainly had a good time.’
Sean said: ‘It has been really good fun. It has been hard work trudging up and down but it’s been great.’
The festival was also made possible by an army of volunteers and workers from local firms such a TJ Waste, who stepped in at the last minute to look after the festival's bins.
Daniel Coghlan and AJ Wright were part of the team working for the waste company.
He said: ‘There has been a good atmosphere. It has been hard work but the vibe has been amazing.’
AJ said: ‘The stall holders really looked after us. It is nice to see that you are appreciated. The weather has been the only downside.’
There were scores of stalls selling their wares and promoting their causes.
Craig Locke, 50, from Bournemouth, was holding circus workshops with The Folk Org.
He said: ‘It has been great, it has been a challenge, but we are thankful that our pitch didn’t get flooded. We came as equipped as possible.’
Matt Todd, 26, from Gosport, was selling sausages with his co-workers Juma Sat, 59, and Ze Liu, 30, both from Birmingham.
Matt said: ‘It has been a laugh and we have been shelling out the sausages. Everyone loves a German Weiner and the music has been good too. I have really enjoyed watching the Pete Bog Fairies and Beans on Toast.’
For more go to wickhamfestival.co.uk/