Comparing Sidmouth to other UK festivals - could anything replace it?
Views collated from internet discussion groups.
Both Broadstairs and Whitby are week-long festivals. They are as good as, if not better than, Sidmouth for participation; especially Whitby. Both festivals also have a wealth of performances by folk artists from around the globe but with the emphasis on British artists. Sidmouth may be Mecca but the other two are Bethlehem and Nirvana. Cambridge is all concerts, and packed out. Chippenham is good for dances as well as concerts but is only over a long weekend.
Nothing compares to Sidmouth for the younger generation in terms of a place where we feel as included as do older people. There is nothing which compares to the Shooting Roots venture amongst other major festival organisers. Fortunately Mrs. Casey still run the Towersey Festival where SR can continue. However I fear that the youth movement in the British folk scene will take some years to find a home as compelling as Sidmouth run by Mrs. Casey.
I wouldn't take it on given the bureaucracy of the local council in Sidmouth - and I reckon no good businessman would if they knew the crap they were up against. I reckon it's going to die whatever. The majority of the residents in Sidmouth deserve it to die. When a number of the shops go under due to the demise of the festival as we know it, Sidmouth will become a ghost town. Then they'll complain - and it will be too late!
A comment about the geography of Sidmouth. It is difficult to get from one event to another. But I loved that we were in a town and not a farmer's field or an impersonal exhibition ground somewhere. It meant I could eat at a nice restaurant if I got fed up with the food at the arena, I could go back to my B&B and listen to the Kate Rusby concert from the open window, or I could just wander along the prom or sit on the beach or go for a walk on the cliffs.
Perhaps others who are used to little Devon seaside resorts don't feel the same way. I like Sidmouth, and I was grateful that the townspeople allowed the festival to disrupt their lives for a week. I am sorry to hear that some of them resented us.
My husband and I are folk dancers, musicians and singers in the traditions of England. We live in Canada and have been to Sidmouth twice in the last ten years. We would go every year if we could afford it. Sidmouth is like a personal musical pilgrimage, and requires as much sacrifice, especially if you're not wealthy.
There is no other festival like it. All the others are performance festivals. At Sidmouth, you share and learn and participate. And the focus on youth has been brilliant. We returned home with armfuls of new tunes, dances, songs, contacts, CD's, information, skills, and a renewed enthusiasm that lasts for years. The British government needs to be nurturing this unique festival, and guaranteeing it's continuing existence. Sidmouth is very important to us and we want it to continue. In fact, we can't imagine it not being there. When I told a young folkie friend of mine that it was threatened, he said he was very disheartened, as he had always planned to go there one day.
For earlier discussions and comments see folk25d and folk25e.
For economic analysis see folk 21. The festival is far less important to the economy of Sidmouth than many people suppose.
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