Finely Tuned Festival

Jools Holland's Big band at Cropredy

Photo by Bill Tyne — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

A festival can be at its best when the expression is natural, the relationship to an audience immediate, and the development organic.

This formula has been the magic behind Fairport’s Cropredy Convention outside of Oxfordshire, England. The annual festival is a genuine gathering of the old and young coming together for three days of joy, comfort, relaxation, listening and dancing. For almost forty years, Cropredy is one of the best examples of what a festival can and should be.

As with many of the great festivals, Cropredy began as a simple gathering of fans and friends — this one for the followers of the group, Fairport. As you may recall, Fairport is credited with creating folk rock. Their influence is so much more than the joining a violin and electric guitar onstage. “Meet on the Ledge” is still an anthem for coming together on the other side.

True to Fairport’s spirit, placing them in history is always done with a wry smile. As noted on their site, “Fairport did for real ale what the Grateful Dead did for LSD.” Or, from David Pegg, the group’s bassman, “You could say the Stones have played a hundredth of the gigs for ten thousand times the dosh.”

Honest and direct, the music is played for the simple joy of playing. The festival continues to welcome all from the oldest to the youngest. Kids can work on their circus skills, have fun improvising a play, or chase after large balloons. Dogs get to meet each other. Friends who come together once a year, get to catch up, laugh, sing and hang out. The festival even boasts the cleanest toilets of any music festival.

The festival holds the spirit of a small pub that comes to life outside, and in the village. Everyone feels safe, accessible, and a part of a genuine community.

So, happy birthday Fairport Cropredy Convention.

Don’t you wish you were there?

- Bill Reichblum

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