Tickets for Sidmouth Folk Week 2008 - and details of stewarding.

Little comment is now necessary about plans for Folk Week. The official website contains most of the relevant information. Tickets for 2008 are even more expensive, but at least the structure has been simplified - or maybe 'altered yet again' would be a better description! In any case, read the small print carefully. There are no concessions for EDDC residents or taxpayers - unlike in the Steve Heap years. This may reflect three factors - the lack of financial support from EDDC, the emphasis on discounts for young people that seems to be a guiding principle of the new organisers, and the ever pressing need to take as much money as possible to keep the whole event viable.

One principal difference for 2008 is the Ham ticketing - season ticket holders can buy a season ticket for the evening concerts or (before 1 June) you can get 20% off one ticket for each concert, again if you are a season ticket holder. The separate tickets for Bulverton early evening events seem to have been scrapped - many adult season ticket holders did resent the idea of paying extra for these.

Stewarding - pros, cons and small print!

Stewarding is under the control of different people - we await to see if there is a repeat of the numbers who failed to turn up for duty in 2007! Sidmouth was not alone in having these problems in 2007 - and to a greater extent than is normal at folk festivals in good weather. Duties continue to be arduous - one suggestion I have made to other festival organisers is that there may be scope for offering 'half and half' stewards tickets - people would pay half the normal season ticket price and be required to do only half the number of hours of duty. Many people do not volunteer to be stewards simply because of the long hours required. In addition there seem to be some grumbles this year about Stewards not getting special ticket deals for the evening Ham concerts - they have to pay like any other punter.

The general address for stewards to enquire is stewards@sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk or you can download an application form from www.sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk/stewarding.htm

Note that you should be able to get a 'cheap' (cheaper?) season ticket later than 31 March if you apply to be a steward but are not selected (which sounds better than 'rejected'!). There is no absolute guarantee of this as the following makes clear:

From the final paragraph of the Terms and Conditions section of the application form:

"If your application has been received before end of March 2008 but we find ourselves unable to offer you a place as a steward, then we will offer you an Adult or Young Adult Season ticket (as applicable) at the early bird price of 136 or 102 respectively in recognition of your interest and support of Sidmouth FolkWeek (offer available until 4th July and subject to availability). Alternatively, you may wish to consider the benefits of joining the Supporters Club (see website for details)."

The organisers say that the "subject to availability" bit is there "because it's possible that every ticket will already have been sold by 4 July. Possible but unlikely!"


Folk Week needs help collecting money - all you need is a smile

One particular area in which Folk Week needs help with is collecting money on the street in buckets and tins. According to the management:

"It's a job that you either love or hate, but the collections form a very important part of the Festival's income and we need people who enjoy mixing with the public and are confident with a collecting tin. Perhaps you already have experience from working at other festivals or a morris side, or just feel you'd enjoy having such an important role. In return, of course, you will receive the same benefits as other stewards. Even if you will be in Sidmouth for only part of the week, we may still be able to offer you some duties in return for reduced benefits. For further information or to register interest, please contact Viv Day by emailing her at vivday@ekit.com : please note that this email address is for enquiries specifically related to collecting.


Sidmouth festival remains of course a shadow of its former self - there will be no arena shows and few international events. It is also getting more expensive by the year - but then so are most festivals. For a single adult attending with a caravan, and booking after 1 April 2008, the cost is 155 for a basic season ticket, 46 for campsite, 20 for caravan supplement and 55 for a Ham evening concert season ticket - a total of 276.

Needless to say the organisers put a brave face on price increases - their "less than 20 per day" applies only to the basic ticket.

A season ticket gets you in to see (subject to space, obviously) established names like Blowzabella, Dick Gaughan, Karine Polwartand Roy Bailey, rising stars such as Lisa Knapp, Jim Moray, Bella Hardy, and Tom Kitching & Gren Bartley, rare collaborations including Karen Tweed & Timo Alakotila, and Damien Barber & Mike Wilson, ceilidh bands including Token Women, Asha, 422, Steamchicken and The Maerlock Big Band with, among the callers, Gordon Potts, Martyn Harvey and Pete Rees, great entertainment from Sid Kipper, Belshazzar's Feast and The New Rope String Band, stories from Taffy Thomas, favourites from the tradition including Dan Quinn & Will Duke, Alison McMorland & Geordie McIntyre, Kevin & Ellen Mitchell, Will Noble and Tony Hall, dance displays from Shropshire Bedlams, Martha Rhoden's, Great Western, Windsor Morris, Perree Bane and Gog Magog Molly, and our newly-named Festival Clubhouse at the Bulverton Marquee with an eclectic mix including wicked Latin rhythms from Quinteto Mambo Jambo, a Cornish 'Noze Looan' with Dalla, electronic excitement from Gadarene, and The Demon Barbers Fancy Dress Party.

All those, and lots, lots more costs less than 20 per day - but if that's not enough you can pick and mix from our top evening concerts at the Ham Marquee with Show of Hands, John Tams & Barry Coope, Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill, Karen Tweed's Circa Compania, Jo Freya's Lal Waterson Project, Kathryn Tickell, Martin Simpson, The Poozies and Chris Wood. A season ticket gets you a discount and priority booking for individual concerts - or you can buy a Ham evening season ticket for only 55 for the lot!

Remember there are big discounts for young people - half price for 12-17 year-olds, 75% off for 7-11s and under 7s are FREE, so with our special deal on campsite tickets, Sidmouth FolkWeek is a great value family holiday. You can buy your tickets online at www.sidmouthfolkweek.co.uk over the phone on 01395 578627 or download a booking form from the website and post it to FolkWeek Tickets, Tourist Information Centre, Sidmouth EX10 8XR.


Some local people are also deciding it has become just too expensive: very few local folk dancers are buying a season ticket. Nevertheless, many devotees still seem willing to pay (which is just as well!) and if the weather is kind for yet another year then the new style festival may well get onto a firm financial footing. The published accounts will in due course offer some insight.

The big topic of conversation in Sidmouth in early 2008 was the idea of a large marina being constructed off the coast, to the east of the mouth of the Sid. The shopkeepers were all in favour - so on balance you may be inclined to believe it is a daft idea - maybe even more lunatic than the multi-storey car park that most of them wanted to be built by the swimming pool complex. But in Sidmouth Town Council, as in so many local councils, shopkeepers are regarded as the life and soul of the Party - despite that it is the rest of us who pay most of the council tax! A marina would of course change the ambience of the town and make the seafront more commercialised - at present Lyme Bay is relatively unspoiled. Yachting marinas are infamous for the amount of rubbish thrown overboard (and not just empty gin bottles!) and this is one concern of local residents. Fortunately, East Devon District Council threw out the idea at an early stage of the planning process.

Mind you, if the Greenland ice-cap melts and sea levels rise 6 or 8 metres, Sidmouth will have more to worry about than a few boats being tossed onto the Esplanade - or maybe into the High Street. Here is a gloomy but arguably realistic view of the prospects. For Sidmouth, the key change in fortune may come when the seafront hotels become uninsurable for flood or storm damage. Would anyone grant a mortgage on them then? And would Folk Week have to relocate to higher ground - maybe to the Knowle Arena?!


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