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Fieldview Festival: Simple pleasures

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Fed up with over-commercialised, wallet-haemorrhaging festivals? Tired of watching methedrone-induced teenagers brawling with security guards? If so, Fieldview Festival may be for you.

Situated in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside Fieldview epitomises grassroots festivalling. Organised and run entirely by volunteers the festival opened its doors to a little over a thousand campers this year for four days of sun, cider and soulful syncopation. I went down to check it out.

On the surface Fieldview is like many other small rural festivals. The site, a converted farmyard, consists of three stages; all made from locally sourced and protected wood, and is centred on a love for all things musical. Aside from the on-stage entertainment are a selection of local arts and crafts boutiques and also a host of tasty food outlets including a smoothie shack, barbeque and bar offering up a variety of potent west-country brews.

However, having trawled the festival scene for many years now both home and abroad it is clear that whilst from the outside Fieldview may not have the commercial pull of its more sizeable corporate cousins, it does have something else, something beyond the flashy line-up sheets and sponsorship deals. It has in the words of the organisers an appreciation for the ‘old fashioned values of honesty, charity and community.’

To start with its size is not a reflection on its popularity but rather a vehicle for a relaxed and communal atmosphere. With all three stages within shouting distance patrons don’t ever have to forfeit time to travel to see acts or to grab a couple of beers from their tents. Similarly by inviting primarily local artists the festival avoids the inevitable ebb and flow in crowd size found on larger sites. Instead visitors spend long afternoons drinking in all manner of musical flavours ranging from funked up 60’s soul to two-step garage completely untroubled by time. Unlike other so-called ‘universal’ festivals, Fieldview by its very design creates and endorses a community spirit that larger more urbanised events cannot and will not ever replicate.

Equally whilst Fieldview is championed as an outstanding music festival it is in the absence of music industry celebrities that the festival flourishes as a hotbed for a variety of artistic creativity. Reclined in the shisha bar on Saturday afternoon I was suddenly struck by the multitude of activities going on at one time. Whilst I was enjoying a pipe with my friends just a stone’s throw from the stage, groups were learning capoeira and to their left volunteers were helping to construct solar panels. It came as little surprise then when my girlfriend returned; it was not to rave about the band she’d just seen but to show off her new handmade dream-catcher!

Fieldview is also looking to pave the way as a sustainable and environmentally conscious event. No artists are flown in from far-flung corners of the world (a-la Bono at Glasto this year!), the festival is cleaned and maintained on a daily basis and even the toilets are green. With all profits going to charity, organisers are proving that even festivals of this size can make a difference, and, help educate people about the future of our planet.

In all it seems this festival veteran has not only been charmed but impressed by and honoured to have been a part of this small yet perfectly formed festival, and all for just £35! See you next year!

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