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Beardy Festival 2021 – A Successful Socially Distanced Festival!

Beardy Festival 2021 – A Successful Socially Distanced Festival!

You might think that it would be impossible to stage a socially distanced outdoor festival where attendees enjoy themselves as much as they would in ‘normal’ conditions and feel totally safe at the same time – but Beardy Festival 2021 has pulled it off…again!

Beardy Folk Festival is an expertly crafted and carefully curated midsummer music festival, boasting the best of folk, roots, and acoustic music. The gorgeous setting, within the private grounds of Hopton Court, near Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire is a fitting backdrop to savour such world class entertainment. In true summer festival-style, the site features a range of attractions and activities, from artisan food and drink stalls to music workshops and woodland activities, to free children’s entertainment. Camping and glamping afforded sensational views.

The organisers welcomed approximately 50% of its normal capacity and have followed all current Covid protocols to make Beardy Folk 2021 a different festival experience but no less enjoyable all the same.

Safety, understandably, was a priority with wristbands mailed out in advance and attendees requested to stick to their allocated camping field and adhere to current socially distancing polices. There was plenty of room to park and there is no problem finding a camping spot, which boasted amazing views. Each campsite contained shower blocks and ample toilet facilities with remote-controlled sanitiser stations. Showers and toilets were monitored and cleaned at regular intervals.

The concert field itself was also marked out with Beardy Bubbles to ensure safe social distancing but the crowd ensured “distancing rules” were managed when they were not within those markings. Single file entry was introduced at all access points and toilets were managed in the same way as on the camping fields. The Bar was laid out in the style of a supermarket checkout, with aisles marked out at 1m apart and single file entry and exit.

As ever, all the artists on the bill absolutely nailed it. The fabulous line up, featuring the likes of Merry Hell, Tim Edey, Benji Kirkpatrick and The Excess, was a huge success and were met with a wonderful reception from the highly appreciative festival crowd. Everybody was just so glad to see live music back on the stage once more.

All workshops took place in the open air with no areas undercover available for people to congregate across the site. The general feeling was that this was as close as you could possibly get to the normal festival experience, under the current guidelines. In fact, it felt safer than visiting the local supermarket or high street.

The Beardy Festival 2021 has proven any doubters wrong. You can stage a successful outdoor folk festival in a safe and controlled environment.

The unqualified success of the festival has reinforced the AFO’s call for the government to recognise that not all festivals feature tens of thousands of young people dancing and in close proximity. In fact, most festivals are more relaxed, laidback, and sedate affairs.

As we have seen recently many festivals are not able to take on the risk that Beardy Festival did, so many have recently cancelled and sadly, we expect more will do so in the near future.

To ensure that the 2021 Festival and Events Industry does not collapse the government needs to immediately introduce an insurance underwriting scheme for pandemic-related cancellation. Without such a scheme, the events industry cannot realistically restart.

Author: Madeline Spear

Association of Festival Organisers (AFO): 28th Jun 2021 09:39:00

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