Respect Your Festival Blog #3

'Also to the security who were camped right next to us - you filthy animals, clean up your mess next time before you leave!'

Well it’s been an eventful 2010! Respect Your Festival (RYF) hit a bit of a brick wall at the end of 2009, the stress of giving up full time work to start a business on my own took its toll and RYF had to go on hold. However following a bit of R&R and conversations with Sandy Reid at Festaff, RYF began gearing up for it’s first big project which I’ll tell you more about in a mo.

The year started well at Blissfields, I am ashamed to say that I didn’t know how incredible the festival really was nor the fact that it is held less than 20 miles from my own home! We were really impressed with the line up, the set up (including the legendary Hidden Hedge), the stewards, security and litter pickers. What we weren’t impressed to see was the mess left in areas of the campsite – we thought we had a weekend off! We have generally found that sub 1500 capacity festivals tend not to have a problem with throwaway culture and trashing of campsites but this wasn’t the case at Blissfields. Now we’re not here to point fingers or blame certain groups of people for issues at festivals but we were camped very nearby to the groups responsible for the devastation left, and I’m afraid to say they were all under 25. Having spoken with Paul Bliss we are proud to announce that RYF will be working with Blissfields in 2011 to tackle this problem and ensure that the campsites are left as green as they are found.

Next up was our first big project working with T in the Park and Festaff to head up the new Trash Truck Team, one of the new initiatives incorporated into Citizen T. 136 volunteers turned up ready to be lead by myself and three other RYF staff as festival world’s first festival Trash Truck Team, a tent to truck rubbish and recycling collection service provided by some of the hottest bin men and women known to the industry. Despite massively changing weather conditions our team headed out into the camping areas handing out clear and black bags, explaining to the festival-goers how the new system would work i.e. – you fill bags, leave them next to your tent, we’ll come pick them up! Service with a smile and when we had them left, Citizen T badges as a little thank you. As a new initiative there were a few teething problems that had to be ironed out but overall it was heralded a success by all involved. I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone from the teams, you were incredible and brilliant to work with!

I won’t go into too much detail about the other events attended, we’ll save that for the write ups that will appear on the new website but special mentions have to go to:

Camp Bestival
– superb new layout and the stops had all been pulled out! We ended up spending far too much time in the Nail Bar drinking fabulous Drambuie cocktails and being entertained by many DJ’s including Christian and his amazing son, who being less than five years old blew everyone away when he got on the microphone to sing the whole of “My Momma Hates Me!”.  Only problems were combining security and staff camping into a space which wasn’t big enough and mixing people who are working shifts who need some peace and quiet with others who were used to making a bit of noise in their staff camping areas. Also to the security who were camped right next to us – you filthy animals, clean up your mess next time before you leave!

Croissant Neuf Summer Party – Our festival favourite from 2009 went from strength to strength, improving what we already thought was a flawless and perfect event and the fire show this year, well, just WOW. Highlight of the summer. We enjoyed working with the CNSP team and other traders following the event to clean up, recycle and help pack up.

Pulse Festival – If you missed Pulse, you missed out! Pulse in its first year pulled together the perfect combination of passion and experience to put on an event to remember and one to be incredibly proud of. The festival was put on by Mark Ward (Heathward) and Olly Maw (Subgiant) to raise money for the Children's Heart Unit in Southampton as both have young children with congenital heart disease and have both had life saving treatment by the Southampton unit. We saw many familiar festival faces from Section6 and stewards we have met at Blissfields, Endorse It and a few other events – if you need anything from music rigging, DJ’s, sculptures, lighting, security, stewards etc you need to get on to these teams! Simply superb. Looking forward to next year, hoping that it grows to a two to three-day event with camping!

RYF has had to face a major issue at the beginning of August when the website was attacked and deleted, email disabled, RYF Facebook group deleted, my own personal Facebook account frozen and my personal/business Twitter account hacked and deleted. I would like to apologise profusely for anyone who was unfortunate to visit the website during the attack which at times was vile, also to anyone who received any sort of abuse from the hacker themselves. This unfortunately had a knock on effect crippling cash flow so we were unable to attend V and Reading Festival where we were set to discuss future plans and ideas to tackle some of the issues facing festivals.  

Unfortunately the original temporary website has been deleted so we have had to start from scratch – quite a difficult feat when you consider we now have no money in the bank to pay for a new website or hosting. Thankfully Janus Jasinski from Strictly Reading came to our rescue and has kindly given us a few months of free hosting and set us up with Word Press. Afraid to say that I’m still learning Word Press but am talking to a number of parties interested in helping us to rebuild. This has clearly set us back quite a lot but we’re not giving up, despite everything facing us we’re still making big plans for the Festival Conference and Awards, with even bigger plans for 2011.

I’d like to personally thank everyone who has stuck by us during this difficult time, I would mention everyone but I’m sure this update is a little too long and editor Dan is going to make me chop it down. You know who you are and I look forward to working/partying with you in 2011.

Jenni Wares
Respect Your Festival