The Festival With A View – ValleyFest 2019

by Lynn Riches | Posted on 9th August 2019

As I sat, last weekend, in our beautiful Somerset countryside, in a gently sloping lakeside meadow,

looking out over chew valley lake which provided a sparkling backdrop, edged by the rolling

Mendip Hills, to the ever growing ‘ValleyFest’, with the varied sounds of music playing on several

stages and aromas of great food and drink all around me, I took a moment to step back and watch

the festival visitors, all laughing and dancing, eating and drinking, with family and friends enjoying

the great outdoors, I couldn’t help but think that Luke, the land owner, and the team that organise

‘ValleyFest’ had done a fantastic job in bringing our wider community together and been so very

generous to share with us their wonderful oasis.

As a garden designer, many of you will know, I am passionate about encouraging wildlife into our

gardens, working in harmony with nature and connecting us to the landscape around us. In all my

designs I try to inspire and encourage clients to consider and understand how important their piece

of land or garden is and how it will effect not only their wellbeing but also the wider environment.

Being immersed in the countryside, surrounded by beautiful trees and plants, nature and its

wildlife, will always give me a sense of well being and calm and I am sure to others too.

This was an ethos I felt was reflected, on a much larger scale, by everyone involved at ‘Valley Fest’

to include the organisers, the sponsors, traders and visitors. I cant congratulate the team enough

on this hugely successful and spectacular event which was held on Luke Hasell’s Chew Valley

organic working farm. Luke has said “Having a festival on a working farm means that people can

come and get a better understanding about farming, they can run their hands through the soil.

They can do foraging, have a look round the farm, meet the farm animals, pick veg, and enjoy talks

and workshops on everything from fermenting to cider-making. This is why it’s a great family

festival – to show kids where their food comes from and teach them about the land is wonderful –

this is the next generation of environmental stewards.” a statement that I very much support.

The festival, spread across the Somerset farm, is perfect for those that enjoy the wealth the

outdoors gives, music and food lovers, first-time festival goers, plus young and maturing families

with plenty of activities for everyone. It encouraged visitors to think about the environment, nature

and wildlife, where their food comes from and the impact that has together with great food and

music to enjoy.

Valley Fest is held in the fields neighbouring The Community Farm, which provides organic

vegetable boxes to around 700 customers in the area. Festival goers were invited to have tours,

get involved in food and farming workshops, learn how to roll sushi, make kimchi as well as join in

a hugely popular bee and wildlife walks.

There was an electic mix of music over two stages with the main lakeside stage hosting Basement

Jaxx DJ set who definitely got the party started on Friday night and Chart-toppers Razorlight who

played on Saturday night with thumping, high-energy rock ‘n’ roll. Tom Odell took to the stage on

the final night with his piano virtuoso’s raw and powerful voice creating a laid back and calm

atmosphere for a sunday. The second stage saw a more varied mix of music inspired from around

the world with some fantastic sounds and vibes.

There were some great acts at the gathering place, I loved the ‘Hear Here’ tent with my absolute

favourite and very talented ‘Lip to Lung’, a vocal explorer and songwriter who took us through the

physics, physiology and phrivolity of all the sounds a face can make. Sideways yodelling, beatbox/

mouthdrums/vocal percussion, harmonics/throat singing, mic technique, looping, advanced

clapping and vocal distortion (without hurting) were all explored on the way to being a band with

your voice and the lead singer too. Important topics were discussed too at the ‘The view point’ tent

with the ‘Big storey of our planet’ by Jonnie Hughs and Dan Huertas who really captured

everyones attention over environmental issues

The region’s culinary heroes and heroines were cooking up a storm each night in the form of

feasts, Owner of the local Michelin-starred ‘Pony and Trap’, Josh Eggleton, together with Rob

Howell, Head Chef of Bristols ‘Root’, were at the helm on Saturday night and Beth Al Rikabi, the

free range chef, on sunday. There were food demos and workshops galore plus more street food

than you can shake a stick at. Compton Martins ‘Ring of Bells’ set up camp serving drinks from its

own bar and hosted its own party with some great artists and DJ sets well into the night. Yeo Valley

served some great food from its pop up, ever popular, canteen and local wine producer, Aldwicks,

were supplying the visitors with their mouth watering locally made wine.

Much of the drive to run the festival comes from the fund raising opportunity it creates. Last year,

Valley Fest raised £14,479.15 for Teenage Cancer Trust and they are very much hoping to beat that

record this year.

The party went on all weekend and we were sad to say goodbye sunday night. The dates have

been set for next year of the 31 July – 2 August 2020 and I cant recommend enough that you book

the weekend out in your diaries and get yourself some tickets. I look forward to seeing you there!


Photographer Credit: With thanks to Ania Shrimpton and the ValleyFest team.

Press Release: With thanks to Malissa Kidd and the the ValleyFest team.


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