To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
48 messages

Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer

30 Aug 05 - 09:54 AM (#1552745)
Subject: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Dick The Box

Just returned from a very enjoyable weekend at Towersey as part of Great Western Morris. As this was my first time at the festival I thought I would chuck a few comments out to see what the response was....

1) I didn't find the line-up very inspiring. The ceilidhs were good but nothing else made me think "Wow, I must see them". Was this year on a par with previous line-ups, or was this a poor year?

2) There were a lot of people there. Rumour has it that 1000 extra tickets were sold and I heard gripes that it was losing the intimate feel of previous years. Personally, I could get to see all I wanted to see because I was happy to sit outside but if the weather had been bad then it might have been a different story.

3) Camp site 2 was appalling. It was shockingly crowded and the washing/toilet facilites were pathetic. They were not cleaned often enough and there was rarely any water for hand washing. There were practically no washing facilities on site, which for a five day festival is very poor. The only showers were communal, off site and only available in timed slots. When you pay a lot of money for a ticket to a "professional" festival then you expect something better, healthier and less like a refugee camp.

4) While most of the stewards were friendly and helpful, there were a number of "jobsworths" who caused problems by sticking rigidly to the "rules" and not applying common sense to situations. Is this just another consequence of the "professionalisation" of festival organising?

5) Tickets for artists. I know it is common policy these days for artists to only get a ticket for the day they are performing (or no ticket just a fee) but I feel that this only diminishes the intimate friendly atmosphere of a folk festival. I don't like the "they are artists, you are paying punters" attitude. I like to be able to mix and talk with them - that way both sides can find out what the other thinks and wants. They can also informally join in at sessions/singarounds/chats in the bar. I think it is great that Andy Cutting attended the whole festival, but appalled that he had to buy his own ticket!

Hmmmm. Bit of a rant there. Best go and lie down. Still, when all's said and done, I did enjoy myself and would go again!

30 Aug 05 - 11:07 AM (#1552782)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Mrs_Annie

Hi Dick

Very interesting comments.

1) The line up was fairly representative of what they normally have - they don't tend to go for 'big names' but there's always enough there to tempt us back.

2) / 3) We've been going for a few years now, only camped there the last two. And the camping this year was VERY crowded, we were hard put to find a space at tea time on Friday, and had to go up on site 3 not what we booked for. But I don't see taking 2 days holiday just to get a camping spot.
We were told it was much busier this year due to people going there instead of Sidmouth, we met a few of them.

And I agree, what if it had rained for the Kate Rusby concert - mayhem!

4) Some of the stewards were obviously inexperienced and shouldn't have been left on their own - e.g. 1 person trying to find spaces for people to camp. And there didn't seem to have been any enforcement of rules regarding space taken up, leaving roadways clear. It seemed like they had just let people get on with it, not at all like previous years where we were told exactly where to pitch.

5) Like you I am appalled that Andy Cutting had to buy his own ticket. We see him there every year, camped in the same spot, but we thought that because he was performing this year, he would get a complimentary.

But I'm glad you enjoyed yourself. Despite being kept awake every night by one selfish group of people, we enjoyed it a lot. Thanks for being there, it's the Morris/Molly/Rapper teams who make it what it is. (and what Cambridge lacks)


30 Aug 05 - 11:39 AM (#1552809)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Seaking

Just got home. Overall a very enjoyable weekend but one or two 'niggles' with the organisation.

Arrived early Thursday afternoon and told by the stewards that campsite 3 arrangements were different this year so couldn't park the caravan in our usual spot up the left edge of campsite 3. Parked other side of fence in campsite 2 - only to see caravans being parked in the space we hadn'd been allowed to use 30 mins earlier !!

Agree with comments about showers, have never understood why they can't provide 24 hr facilities on campsite 2. Totally inadequate arrangements now for a five day festival, especially with so many extra people on the campsites. And it was hot !!!

The sound for the Kate Rusby Arena concert was probably the worst I have ever heard at any outside gig anywhere. (Good in the concert tent though, especially for Show of Hands). I suspect it was the equipment rather than the sound guys, it even looked inadequate.

Everywhere seemed to be running out of some beers (and 'Old Rosie') by Sunday night. Do the refreshment providers not look at the weather forecast or know how many tickets are sold in advance ?

Probably small glitches in an otherwise impressively run and overall good value event.

Now I'm off for a bath......

30 Aug 05 - 12:41 PM (#1552871)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Crystal

I got back a few hours ago (had to catch up on my sleep!)
I've been going to Towersey every year for the past 14 (since I was nine, plus a couple before that!) and I have to admit that this year felt to me weaker than it has been before. Very little on the line up really grabbed me, except Show of Hands and The Committee Band which is sad as I found myself getting a bit bored, I've pretty much decided to give it a miss next year. It was very family/young people orientated, which is good, given the number of families/ young people there, but I felt that there were a few too many workshops for muscisions and not enough for dancers and singers in the shooting roots session, but that is a niggle I've had every year!

Surely giving an artist a free ticket is a good thing! That way they have no reason to come, do their thing and buzz off again without getting to know what the punters want, just my view!

Stewards, well I'm a childrens festival steward and we have to put up with some terrible parents who get angry when they havn't read the program and turn up ten minutes after a workshop has started and find out that it is full. We give up our holiday to steward so don't get unplesant with us, it's usually not our fault and most of us tend to feel that if there is a problem we should stick to the rules, it means it is fair and dosn't jepordise our position.

Site 2/3 toilets: They definatly needed another set up at the top of site three! However the clenliness was an issue this year, mainly because apparently of the 6 bog squad stewards allotted to site 2/3 supposed to turn up only 1 actually did! He managed to rope in a friend, and I was helping out in the evenings, but two people is definatly NOT enough to look after the 8 blocks of toilets, and they were short of stewards so there wern't enough to go round. The clenliness wasn't helped by the fact that people were leaving all sorts of rubbish in the toilets and the stewards wern't given any rubber gloves. Oh and the toilet roll ran out so an emergency dash to Morrisons had to be made to get more!
Next year there is talk about getting toilets with bigger water tanks, which have been needed for years IMHO!

Anne, where were you camped? bottom of site two by any chance? If you where it could have been much worse last night (there is a story there!).

I'm going to try Beverly FF next year, anyone got any comments on that.

30 Aug 05 - 03:28 PM (#1552947)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer

Can't comment specifically on Towersey as I have never been but as a regular steward at a number of events, and for a time in charge of security at one festival I feel qualified to comment on "jobsworths".

Stewards are required to enforce health and safety regulations and licensing constraints. They do not have any leeway about these, if a venue has been filled to its licensed capacity then you can't come in. If you have parked in the emergency vehicle access then you you will be required to move. If the venue owner has specified as part of the hire contract that drinks may not be taken into the venue then you will be stopped from taking drinks into the venue.

Considering the number of arrogant dickheads among the great British public the one thing that continually amazes me is that I have never heard of a punter being hit by a folk festival steward.

30 Aug 05 - 04:01 PM (#1552954)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: The Borchester Echo

This year and last year I was in and out of Towersey for specific events and I haven't actually camped there since 2003 so you can dismiss my comments as irrelevant if you like. Back then, I arrived on Thursday p.m. and, as in previous years, was overwhelmed with offers to help pitch my tent on Site 2 (thanks guys). I was close to the bogs (which were meticulously maintained) and to the lovely chip stand where fantastic late night sessions occurred. That year I worked on the lower gate in the daytime and was always able to offer walk-up visitors a day ticket. OK, maybe things have changed; that's up to Mrs Casey to have a rethink, just as it was when Steve Heap took over from Dennis Manners, way back then.

As for artists, I would agree that the headline acts weren't exactly inspiring, though perhaps just the thing if the aim was to draw in the unintiated (not that I totally concur with this 'lowest common denominator' philosophy, but that's another story). Acts which actually were mindblowing appeared in rather smaller typeface on the bill: the John Dipper Band, Devil's Interval and the Gloworms . . . possibly there were more; I spent a regrettably short time there.   And, as I have been saying for years, I think there should be a reliable shuttle transport system laid on between Thame and /or Haddenham & Thame station and the village. Then not nearly so many people would come by car, clogging up valuable space. Except for the last leg, Towersey is very accessible by public transport.

Oh, re Beverley: Fantastic campsite at Leisure Centre with everything laid on. All sorts of things going on everywhere in a great little town. Whenever I've been I've loved it.

30 Aug 05 - 04:32 PM (#1552969)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,Paul Mitchell

Over all I enjoyed the festival. In particular the whole kids tent thing makes the event accessable, and great fun for the kids. Well played you lot.

There was a lot of feeling that this year the stewards had been told to be extra tight on the rules. There was a real farce with the fences going on. There were MANY more jobs worth stewards this year. The security firm had managed to hire some VERY unhelpfull people in places. I fully accept that many punters are rude, but that doesn't mean some stewards aren't too! The festival had a different feel, and for the money I figure we will reconsider next year and give it a miss. Let the apparent new committee (or who ever has introduced so many odd changes) calm down a bit. But it's not just the organisers, the reception we got from some punters in the dance tent was very rude. Perhaps I just need a break from Towersey!

30 Aug 05 - 04:41 PM (#1552979)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Michael

Beverley 2005: Campsite excellent, showers & toilets in Leisure Centre, never had a problem with 'jobsworth' stewards.

30 Aug 05 - 05:02 PM (#1552995)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Liz the Squeak

Hi, as a Towersey steward of 8yrs standing (mostly at gates), it's always nice to get feedback from 'punters'.

1) Lineup. It's been a lot worse in previous years, believe me!! There were several headline acts this year, but there have been a lot of negative comments about having to pay extra for the Rolf Harris/Kate Rusby concerts. I personally didn't want to pay the extras but managed to sneak a quick 10 mins just standing outside of the arena.

2) Yes, there were a lot of people there. I cannot comment on the 'extra tickets' because I do not know. What I *do* know is that it has always been a 'sell out' festival. Oddly enough, the events there that I attended were nowhere near as crowded as in former years.

3) Yes... campsite 2 was appalling. Campsite 1 filled up quicker than before, it was practically full by 1.00pm Thursday. There are steps in hand to try and control this with the proposed limits/ban on gazebos. The amount of space there is constant, the size of tents is not. Over the years, the same people come but bring larger tents or larger offspring with their own tents. This takes up the extra space - an adult couple with 2 older children in their own tents will take up 3 tent spaces whereas previously they would have taken 1. People 'stake out' their territory with windbreaks, creating their own little villages but also taking up space that in previous years another person would have pitched in. The overspill went to campsite 2, which then spilled over into 3.
It is correct that only 1 of the proposed 6 volunteer 'bog squad' team turned up. The organisers then arranged for contract cleaners who could only fit in the cleaning around their available time slots. The situation was not helped by people taking away whole toilet rolls as soon as they appeared. The site 2 loos were 'papered' at 3.00am. By 7.00am all paper was gone. Because the contractors didn't come back until the following 3.00am, there were emergency runs to the supermarket for more. As for washrooms/showers, it is entirely possible, if you come prepared, to wash in your tent. The showers are only available because the social club make them so. I've not been to many other festivals where showers have been available.

4) 'Professionalisation' - this may be truer than you think. Members of the professional security staff had to complete a training course at employment. There are proposed legislations to make this compulsory for ALL festival stewards, at a cost of £80-£100 per course per person. The days of the volunteer steward could be numbered. As for those 'jobsworths' you came across, I can only apologise but sometimes people take their jobs literally. If we bend the rules and something happens, it can be traced back to the steward on duty and we are off the list, further applications to steward are turned down. Similarly, we have a certain number of people who turn up, take their free ticket and are never seen again. This puts more pressure on those who do turn up; the organisers are made to call upon the 'floaters' - people who turn up offering to steward after the rota is made, and may not have had much experience before. If you have a serious problem with a particular steward, report it to the stewards office or the main info desk. That way, the organisers know who is trustworthy and who would benefit from a few general pointers.

5) Artists tickets. The best person to talk to about this policy is the festival organiser. All the artists I dealt with had day season tickets - this gave them access to all areas but no camping. Most artists prefer to have B&B nearby. I saw Pete Coe, Jez Lowe and Phil Knightly all 'mingling' with the crowd, never set eyes on Andy Cutting all weekend!

If you want to volunteer to steward in the future, or want to make more comments on the festival, then try Emailing Mrs Casey Music at

Thank you for your input though.. there were several things about the layouts this year that were very different to previous years.... they may well be rethought and rearranged next year!


30 Aug 05 - 05:13 PM (#1553003)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Liz the Squeak

"There was a lot of feeling that this year the stewards had been told to be extra tight on the rules. There was a real farce with the fences going on."

What fences and where Paul? We had trouble with some locals trying to get back on site after 6.00pm (they have free showground tickets until then, they usually want to get into the beer tent as they're known as too young in the village pub) by sneaking under a fence, but I didn't hear of any other trouble.

As for the first part of the quoted comment - we were given no other instructions other than the usual info on band and day ticket access. At no point was I, as a steward, told to be extra tight on anything, just vigilant over unsociable behaviour.

As for what the professional stewarding team had been told, I cannot comment. I just know from chatting to their manager, that they were given roughly the same instructions as volunteer stewards but had the extra oomph of being able to call up several 'heavies' to ensure everyone had a good time and weren't unsociable.


30 Aug 05 - 05:29 PM (#1553013)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,Ian

Re: overcrowded camping

Since the amount of available camping space is fixed, maybe they should consider charging for camping based on the amount of space occupied rather than the number of people occupying it? Maybe charge extra for larger pitches (a double sized pitch costing more than two single ones), to encourage people to keep their units small?

Ian (Derwenna)

30 Aug 05 - 05:48 PM (#1553029)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Liz the Squeak

Ian - Prices for these festivals are high enough as it is... charging per space taken by tent would put some right out of the range of many people. As I said above, it's people who've been coming for 20+ years and bring offspring with them who no longer sleep in the same tents but order on the same invoice, it's unsociable staking of territory with windbreaks and the thoughtless (and to my mind, selfish) positioning of gazebos - usually outside tents more than big enough to sit and chat in - who take up the space.


30 Aug 05 - 06:07 PM (#1553046)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Herga Kitty

I've found this thread a very interesting read, because I used to camp at Towersey for the weekend, and go to events (including the late night film show with Jungle Book clips) and have only commuted for the day, and paid to get on site for the last several years. I also went to my first Dartmoor festival this year, so it has been interesting to compare village festivals.

I hope that Andy Cutting, whom I've known since he was 7, and given that the Herga Folk Club, of which his parents were members, was run by accountant and festival organiser John Heydon, fully appreciates that, as a professional folk perfomer, he can claim his ticket price as a business expense on his tax return.

I also hope that Jim Causley didn't pay for a Dartmoor ticket, because he was stewarding.

I think it's great that the best performers on the folk circuit don't set themselves apart from the punters, and generally and generously mix and mingle with their fans.


30 Aug 05 - 08:19 PM (#1553137)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Surreysinger

Kitty - to be allowable as a tax deduction an expense has to be wholly and exclusively for the purposes of a taxpayer's business (if self-employed). In my many years' work as a tax inspector the purchase of a ticket for personal pleasure rather than 100% business use would certainly have been disallowed, so, unless there have been any vast changes since I retired two years ago (and I'm pretty sure there haven't) I don't think Andy would be lucky enough to be able to claim the cost of his ticket as you suggest. (Mind you, without the full facts and details involved, that has to be a 99.99% likelihood - allowing room for any doubt!)

Interesting to read all the comments about Towersey. I stopped going a few years ago when the B&B in the village, which I had been using for at least 12 years, closed. By that time the festival was very much larger than when I had started going, and to some extent didn't appeal as much as a result of that. The flavour also changed quite a bit - I seem to remember the rot setting in the year that Leapy Lee guested in the Arena (never could work out where he fitted into the definition of "folk"). I still have fond memories, however, of Village Harmony in the village hall, song and dance workshops with Sunduza, and some of the first appearances of Coope Boyes and Simpson.

30 Aug 05 - 08:51 PM (#1553156)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Compton

Just a small observation. I was in the area so went for day saturday. I paid the reasonable £4.00 entrance money and went to see the Dance Display. As I had paid at the gate...and only wanted to see the display, why was I asked to show my Gate Ticket/..Most curious behaviour. Sadly apart from the appalation clog and Great western morris I saw nothing there that set my heart pounding. Mostly the dance displays were very underwhelming. Who checks them out and books them....and what on earth was the American Mime Artist doing in the main arena. Perhaps I should have stayed local and done Bridgnorth!

30 Aug 05 - 10:12 PM (#1553196)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Houston_Diamond

Feeling like an old timer of Towersey (I think 30 years not sure though im only 32)

I remember between 15 to 20 years ago their was a far better intimate feel to the festival and only going into the other field (now used as the 'lesser' campsite with the "art centre") to watch the fireworks on the last night.

It has certainly moved on to the vision Steve and his team seem to want it (geared toward a younger audience).

Love going to Towersey still but the cost is far too much for me these days (even when I go to steward!)

I find the 3 horseshoes more entertaining which is something that is great to find that mrs casey's music hasn't contaminated.

Dont get me wrong, I have loved the concerts and ceilidhs over the years not to mention watching(even in the rainiest of conditions) some of the international acts, but the feeling of the festival in these areas (to me for fun and enjoyment) seems forced.

It certainly hasn't helped that the provision of food retailers has grown and so too has the price!!!

IMHO it isn't the top acts that attract me there anymore, it's you great people who come and I have grown up with all these years that make it so worth while attending.

This year I only made it to the monday evening and really enjoyed hearing the singers in the barn, the chipolatas (great down to earth performers) and getting to sing in the barn as well.

I certainly hope to make it to next years 42nd bash and steward so as there is at least 1 experienced steward. (no offence LTS hehehe).

PS great to see & hear ya LTS. hope to see and possibly hear all your fine music and dance soon.

31 Aug 05 - 04:02 AM (#1553295)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Liz the Squeak

Houston, it was good to see you there too! Typical... Before last week, I last saw you when you were a wee lad hanging on your fathers guitar arm and annoying the hell out of Amanda...... now it's twice in 8 days!

I agree with the prices on food - about 8 years ago I worked out that I spent nearly £60 on food over the 4 days, so I learned to take my own provisions. There seem to be few stalls selling food at a price I can afford on a daily basis. Another nasty trick is price hiking. On Thursday I bought a hot dog for £2.00 (it was a goodly sized one with onions), but on Saturday, the same cost me an extra 20p. I didn't buy one on Monday. I'm not a tea drinker but £1.00 for a big polystyrene cup of tea or £1.50 for hot chocolate did seem rather excessive, £1.20 for SMALL bottled water even more so (especially when a trip to Thame revealed the same brand on sale for less than half the price and a 2ltr bottle on offer at 2 for 75p). I know these vans have their overheads to cover, but surely some of them are pricing themselves out of their own market? They certainly priced themselves out of my pocket. Consequently I spent less than £20 in all on food and drink (other than beer) provided by the stalls, and that was all when I hadn't time to go back to my tent and cook, or wanted to stink out the beer tent with amazing olives.


31 Aug 05 - 04:11 AM (#1553298)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Mrs_Annie

More comments from me.

I just want to say I didn't meet any obnoxious stewards. They were all friendly, pleasant and working hard. Without them there would be no festival. And considering the amount of people, they did really well with the toilets. Only once did I go in and there was no paper. And I always carry a tube of antiseptic hand gel for when you can't wash your hands (bad experiences at Trowbridge)

The camping definitely needs sorting out, I agree some people were taking up way too much space. The couple next to us had a fairly large tent AND a gazebo. And walking through site 1, some of the tents were HUGE. At Cambridge, they charge per size of tent, and they have stewards supervising people pitching to make sure they don't take up too much space. The problems have only been noticeable this year, maybe as was said, there weren't enough stewards available to keep an eye out.

Washing - all you need is a bowl and a kettle and it's so easy to wash in your tent.

Artists - around us camping were Chris Sherburn, Phil Beer, Jim Causley, Damien Barber, that's only the ones we noticed. And I thought Kate Rusby would just turn up on the Sunday, do her bit and go. But on Sat night, she was in the Arts Centre with some mates for T and Latouche, then on Monday she was dancing in the childrens tent, and watching the Chipolatas, just sitting on the grass along with everyone else.

The line up I thought was good this year. What drew us there were: John Dipper, Last Nights Fun, John McSherry, Karine Polwart, Dr Faustus, Jez Lowe. Other acts we really enjoyed were the Devils Interval, Crucible, Johnny Dickinson, James Reynard, Dana and Susan Robinson, Bayou Seco, Tre Martelli. And one special moment was Laurel Swift and John Dipper playing fiddle together in the Village Hall.

And that's not too mention lunchtimes at the pub. The beer and food are cheaper and the beer is much better than on site. And there's entertainment.

So all in all, we really enjoyed it, just sort out the camping.

31 Aug 05 - 04:25 AM (#1553312)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: fiddler

I'm going to say very little, but: -

None of the Stewards working for me were told to 'tighten up' they were asked to be vigilant - It is amazing what people try and get away with, do you want your ticket money subsidising otherswho attempt to get the festival for free?

If anyone has any salient and useful comments - rather than winges that you didn't like the programme! Write to Mrs Casey! All letters get read, they may influence change they may not, I have seen very little here of substance to be brutally honest!

Personally I enjoyed the line up and thoguht it was great, I certainly didn't see everything I wanted too!

Morris Dancers et al - well they come with the territory


31 Aug 05 - 05:12 AM (#1553335)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Dick The Box

Hmmmmm. Seem to have struck a chord here!

1) Line-up. It was just an observation. Everybody's tastes are different so it is a tough job trying to please everyone.

2) Overcrowding. I take the point about Gazebos etc. However, larger tents and young people who don't want to share a tent with Mum & Dad are a fact of life - the festival is trying to attract young people after all. Another point is that while a small tent is acceptable for a weekend, it is not practical for a family for five days. Rather than trying to cram a quart into a pint pot, maybe more fields should be made available? A really quiet site further away might be appreciated. Maybe on the route of that shuttle bus someone mentioned.....

3) Appreciate that stewards are in a no win situation but it is still annoying to stopped to show your armband for the umpteenth time on your way back into the camp site from the loo at 8.00am on a monday morning. Or being forcibly moved over to the right on leaving the showground at 11.00pm to allow for the non-existent people who were still coming in. The rules are there to make the festival run smoothly and safely but unthinking adherance to them at all times eventually pisses people off.

4) Food Prices. Agree that the majority of caterers are not good value. It can be very expensive, especially when you are feeding kids as well. On the subject of price hikes, I had a barney with the van at campsite 2 who wanted to charge me £3.50 for sausage and chips even when it plainly said £2.80 on the board outside. The honourable exception to all this is "Chez Nous" who give you shed loads for your money. If you get the chance also check out the jerk chicken man at Warwick. Great food but a Carribean attitude to service - the "All I want is a melon" advert rang very true!

31 Aug 05 - 05:31 AM (#1553349)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Liz the Squeak

"However, larger tents and young people who don't want to share a tent with Mum & Dad are a fact of life"

I get that.. I'm just trying to point out that when an invoice says '4 camping' it does NOT say '4 camping in 3 tents'. If you see 4 people with the same surname camping, my assumption would be that there is one 4 person tent which would take up considerably less room than the family 4 person tent and 2 'satelites' with young people in them - after all, if you have been used to a big tent, who goes back to a smaller one when the kids have branched out?


31 Aug 05 - 05:38 AM (#1553355)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,Paul Mitchell


We were camping with the litter crew (as ever) in the car park area by the arts tent. Previous years has seen the route to the toilets in the adjacent field (not by the entrance) open, no problems there. This year there was a fence seperating the car park from the main camp site. The heras fence ran to a low barbed wire fence and was tied with string / cable ties, which were regularly cut through. Additionally, people walking from the arts centre were dismantling a link in the heras fencing to allow free passage. The result of the fence being up was, then, that it was being dismantled by paying punters, and the farmers fence was being traversed (it was very low). So the new large fencing created no additional security.....

....Unless you were a 5 year old kid wanting a pee. We really encourage our kids not to pee on bushes, or in car parks, we encourage them to use the toilets. So the fence made their travels difficult.

When the fence was moved and people kept opening it again, but in it's new position, the attention of secrutiy and stewards that had been apparent the days before disappeared. Again, it offered no additional security, but at least we could get to the most appropriate toilets.

The site seemed to have had an invaision of fencing. Walking routes to, in particular, the main concert tent, became limited by the removal of the normal route through the stalls area. This created a "pinch point" at the entrance of the concert tent much worse than previous years. I agree that this tent seemed less crowded than previous years to me, but the exit at the end of the evening was worse, even when additional fencing was removed. It just put more people into the pinch point sooner!

I was also advised by a steward that the fencing around the main concert tent was "fragile" and likely to collapse if a juggling ball hit it. So I didn't juggle. As I didn't want to endanger anyone's life.

31 Aug 05 - 05:41 AM (#1553359)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: el_punkoid_nouveau

Well - that's not putting me off next year!

31 Aug 05 - 05:54 AM (#1553371)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: MBSLynne bit. First time I've camped at Towersey for 21 years and it's quite a bit different from then! I was at the bottom end of third site and it was an awful long way to the loo! I never actually found out where the showers were! Other than that I have no real gripe with camping facilities, though I would still like to see these festivals with a 'camping only' bit for those who can't afford to buy a season ticket or who get no real value out of it cos they only go to the pub. But that's a separate issue....

Not impressed with the line-up either, but then I'm not much into concerts anyway...prefer good song and music sessions. I don't really think, considering the price of the ticket, that I got my money's worth. I also feel that, on top of a £77 ticket, being asked to pay £4 for a program was a bit much. At festivals I've been to in the past, the program was free to people with season tickets.

Had no problem with stewards at all.

Food prices were high and an awful lot of it was burgers and chips. The vegetarian food tent was pretty good though.

However, I too had a really good time. Not sure if I'd go again though. I was on my own this time, but for the whole family to go, the price would make it impossible.

Hey Houston!! Didn't know you were on Mudcat! Sorry I missed seeing you.

Love Lynne

31 Aug 05 - 06:03 AM (#1553374)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: MBSLynne

Forgot to mention...I was rather disappointed in the Barn. When I went years ago it was packed with singers the whole time, but this time it wasn't open Friday lunch time and Friday evening and Saturday sessions were all rather sparse. The Sunday lunch session was great though.

Love Lynne

31 Aug 05 - 06:33 AM (#1553392)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Crystal

I thought the security firm who took ove from the stewards at night were quite poor this year. At 1 am when there were still things going on and people coming to the campsite the two security men were hanging round the burger van and chatting up the girls.

It angers me because I know that my tent was opened (and searched) twice by people obviously looking for valubules, as were the tents of friends.

Don't the people working for the security firm get paid to steward? If they do how come the voulenteer stewards are so much more professional?

31 Aug 05 - 06:55 AM (#1553403)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: fiddler

Crystal - Did you report this to anyone, if not why not?

We are there to help and Security are there to look after your site overnight.

PM me the details, factual please!

Can you be more specific on the security aspects - there were more than 2 guards on duty.


31 Aug 05 - 06:57 AM (#1553405)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: fiddler

BTW - thanks for teh general Stewarding compliment - the volunteers do workvery hard and often get no recognition for their efforts.

31 Aug 05 - 07:27 AM (#1553424)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Hopfolk

Think yourselves lucky that Towersey is a proper folk festival. My lady & I surrendered £65 each (3days) for Cropredy this year and, although some of the music was pretty darn splendid; being treated like one of 25,000 sheep, camping in unsecured areas - open to thievery / tent slashing, insufficient loos and general unfolkyness means we won't be going again.
We would like to stay at Towersey next year, but demand seems to outstrip supply regarding all festivals at this moment in time.

Certainly, I would rather ticket prices rose relative to tent/unit size instead of more camping fields being made available and overcrowding result.

Cheers all


31 Aug 05 - 07:39 AM (#1553432)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,Louis Armstrong

A "proper" folk festival? D'ya mean that no horses were allowed?

31 Aug 05 - 07:41 AM (#1553437)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Crystal

Andy, I complained twice about it, once on Sunday when I saw people without wristbands being let onto site two and once on Monday when the gate was left unwatched on Sunday night. I was taken very seriously by the volenteer stewards office, although apparently not as seriously by the security company itself!

31 Aug 05 - 08:13 AM (#1553468)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,Dazbo

Well it was my first time too and these are my preliminary thoughts.

I was not overly inspired by the concert guest list prefering the ceilidhs (unfortunately I never got to any sessions in the pub). However I was totally inspired by two, 'unknown' concert acts: Tre Martelli were brilliant; The Devil's Interval, a trio of young English performers singing mainly traditional songs were up there too (in a different way). Didn't bother with Kate Rusby but sneaked a long listen and views over the fence of Rolf Harris - you should have seen the faces of the children when their dads joined in with 'Two Little Boys':-)

I really enjoyed all the ceilidh band apart from the Climax Ceilidh Band, but that was due to only hearing a couple of tunes due to lack of time on my part.

Camping: I was on site three and the camping was very chaotic. Apparently there was only one way out (past my tent) for people on the far side of Site 3. Having said that the situation was not helped by there being no 'roads' marked out on the ground, surely this could have made things easier. Concerning the young adults wanting thier own tent. I would suggest that either there is a limit of one tent/carvan per application form. If the little kiddies want their own tent then they can fill in a separate form and each tent gets a permit; or the application form has a bit stating how many tents are going to be used.

Food: The food was expensive but certainly the Chez-Nous looked best value of the lot and their fruit cake was gorgeous. I did howeve have my own supplies and prepared my own meals.

Toilets: The recirculating toilets seemed inadequate for the demands made on them (I didn't know about the lack of Bog Squad members) but it was worth the extra effort to get to the toilets connected to the mains (urgency and time of day permitting).

Showers: Better than nothing but the 2.5 hours allocated split evenly between the sexes were at, I thought, rather inconvenient times of the day with limited changing space and as the women got the first go at each session there was little hot water left for the men.

I am probably going to go again next year.


31 Aug 05 - 04:17 PM (#1553679)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Leraud

I haven't been to Towersey for two years and this year went back with my three grown up children.

Apart from the absolute chaos on Site 1 on Friday at 1:00 p.m. we had a brilliant time. I didn't go to the concert tent at all, but really enjoyed the Village Hall Concerts and the Folk Club. I didn't go in the Dance Tent because I've got an injured foot, but was camping next to it, so could hear it all. I went to a few sessions in the Barn and enjoyed them as well.

I cook all my own food, even my own bread (am thinking of offering a workshop next year!) so didn't get ripped off by any food stalls.

I really did enjoy the whole weekend and am sorry it's over.


01 Sep 05 - 11:23 AM (#1553797)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,Puzzled Pig

I can't help noticing that much of the criticism of this year's Towersey is coming from the same people who say how wonderful this year's Sidmouth was.

Is this just the anti Mrs. Casey / anti Steve Heap brigade rearing their ugly little heads again?

01 Sep 05 - 12:12 PM (#1553837)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,Bemused

What a strange comment ! I personally have nothing whatsoever against Mrs C or Mr Heap, had a wonderful Towersey and feel that some constructive criticism - especially where being ripped off is concerned, has it's place. Most of the comments have been made by people who have offered a balanced viewpoint -nothing more.

Puzzled Pig, how many good festivals have you been to where something didn't piss you off ?

01 Sep 05 - 01:20 PM (#1553927)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,Paul Mitchell

I didn't (and don't) go to Sidmouth.

I don't have anything against Mr Heap or Mrs Casey's.

Overall I enjoyed the festival (particularly the kids stuff, did I mention you guys were great!)

And I actually enjoyed the line up's! Although I wouldn't pay any extra money to see Rolf Harris.

01 Sep 05 - 01:32 PM (#1553947)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,fidjit

You have just, sadly put me off Towersey. It had been on my "festivals to visit" list for a few years now. Last year I made Brampton. Which I thought was great. Good stewards, good line up, good camping. Good food. Didn't notice any thieving or the like. Sidmouth and Broadstairs are still on the list. Although I do prefer the smaller festivals. More intimate. This year I was at Woodworks, Bishop's Stortford. Good line up and cheap! But of course the best for Morris and Molly etc. is Straw Bear. Next year. Well, "Folk on the Water" at Gloucestershire I think. Any bad news about that one?

01 Sep 05 - 02:42 PM (#1554023)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Houston_Diamond

Please don't be put off Towersey :( it is still a great festival because:

1) The people who go are very friendly (for some its their only weekend of friendliness)

2) Variety is still available even for a small place (the pub isn't exclusively run by mrs casey and you can have fun heckling the morris dancers (especially if your from a rival team) lol.)

3) Mrs Casey's music are very experienced in running festivals (nevertheless the change of Sidmouth organisers has done it some good and the lack of stressed Mrs Casey's organisers showed at Towersey).

4) It's the bank holiday that is least likely to rain.

5) Cos the festival is what you make it :)

PS Cheers to all the organisers of Towersey as I know from experience how hard you try to make people happy and safe at all the festivals you've been involved with.

PPS Hiya Lynne and thnx to LTS for saying im the reason for Dad switching to the squeeze box (swinging on the guitaring arm did become difficult when the arm got closer to the armpit :p)

01 Sep 05 - 03:44 PM (#1554081)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Dick The Box

Just to make it clear that

1) I am not bashing Steve Heap / Mrs Casey. Running a festival that is a commercial and artistic success is a tough job, especially with the mountain of red tape and health & safety nonsense that Mr Blair seems intent on drowning us with (plus charging us for the privilege). The observations I made were intended as constructive criticism and I would hope that they are taken on board by the organisers. The things I mentioned are what disappointed me and, from the response, others too. If too many people stop going then the festival will fold and presumably Steve would not want that to happen, so I assume that he is cute enough to make changes as appropriate.

2) The majority of stewards are ace. It is the inexperienced volunteers and hired muscle who cause the problems. I feel that more training, mentoring and monitoring are what is needed. It's a tough job to do if you are inexperienced.

3) The festival is still good, varied, friendly and worth going to. But forewarned is forearmed and in future, if nothing changes, I will have a better idea of how to deal with the shortcomings.

01 Sep 05 - 03:53 PM (#1554094)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,Puzzled Pig

To answer the challenge from Bemused:

i) I don't get "pissed-off" at good festivals. Only at bad ones.

ii) I do get "pissed-off" when people criticise the good ones. It's far too easy to criticise. Just look at some of the posts on mudcat!

Towersey was busier this year than ever before.

Sidmouth was not.

It seems that festivals organised by Steve Heap and Mrs. Casey attract the punters. What's wrong with that?

01 Sep 05 - 04:37 PM (#1554120)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Skipjack K8


01 Sep 05 - 05:04 PM (#1554148)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,Towersey Camper

Towersey was certainly extremely busy this year and maybe some of the problems resulted from that extra pressure on the site and the organization.

I spoke to many people who had decided to give Sidmouth a miss this year and just come to Towersey.

The Towersey organisers have a pretty good track record so I guess they will learn from this year and plan for a greater number of visitors next year.

I cannot agree the line-up was poor. Just look at the crowds for Kate Rusby, Rolf Harris et al.

Neither would I criticise the stewards.

My only criticisms would be that the site and infrastructure couldn't quite cope with the huge influx of visitors.

If Towersey is to expand as Sidmouth contracts then careful thought must be given to changing the site layout and putting in more toilets, showers and litter bins.

As a Towersey regular (and former Sidmouth regular) I trust the organizers to learn from this year and ensure Towersey continues to be one of the best festivals around.

01 Sep 05 - 06:53 PM (#1554246)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Seaking

Bit of thread drift-or light relief dependent on your point of view, but if anyone has any photographs of 'Mash' playing at the Open stage in the Arts Centre on Saturday I'd be extremely grateful for a copy. We had lots of photos taken (or not as the case was) but due to a technical problem with the photographer lost them all..

Please pm me if you can help

Many thanks..


01 Sep 05 - 06:54 PM (#1554248)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Houston_Diamond

"former Sidmouth regular"? This appears to be veering away from folk music slightly and heading toward favouritism!!!

Okay, Towersey & Sidmouth have always been 2 different festivals even though they were run by the same team. Now Sidmouth has new hands at the tiller there is no reason to go overboard!!!

I would love to be a regular at both but sad to say could only go to new Sidmouth to spend most of my time as Mrs Casey Music has gone right out of my price range on food and drink also I feel they have reached saturation point for attendance.

Both Towersey and Sidmouth still provide wonderful folk music and dance.

I would like to remind people that those who worked on Sidmouth 2005 have years of experience working with Mrs Casey (and in some cases before they took over) at Sidmouth.

02 Sep 05 - 06:36 PM (#1555073)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,Jane Bird

I was stewarding at Towersey, too. Nobody told me be extra strict with the rules ... is that what some are saying?

I didn't have a problem with the loos either. But I know that the Bog Squad were up in the early hours of the morning fixing technical and messy problems at one point.

03 Sep 05 - 04:34 AM (#1555284)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: GUEST,Alan from Oxford

I was also a steward at Towersey and can confirm Jane Bird is correct in what she says.

It seems some people are just being mischievous in trying to undermine Towersey and find faults where none existed.

Just because Sidmouth has problems is no reason for the Sidmouth fraternity to try and undermine Towersey.

You stick to your own Festival. Please stop criticising Towersey on this board.

03 Sep 05 - 06:13 AM (#1555308)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: MBSLynne

Hold on just a minute here Alan....there were large numbers of what you call "The Sidmouth fraternity" at Towersey and most of us had a great time. The main person or people here who is (are) doing any real undermining are ones who have also been trying to undermine the new Sidmouth organisation, so don't go blaming the rest of us. As far as I can see the thread was started by someone who enjoyed Towersey but had a couple of quibbles. Most festivals welcome feedback and often don't realise some of the problems or lacks until a punter points them out. They can then address the problem.

"Stick to your own festival?" Funny...I didn't think we had personal festivals...I thought they were all open to everyone. Nor have I ever seen different festivals as being different sides in some sort of war.

Love Lynne

03 Sep 05 - 07:39 AM (#1555358)
Subject: RE: Towersey 05 - Thoughts Of A First Timer
From: Dick The Box

Having read the threads about Sidmouth for the past year, I am deeply depressed that this thread has been hi-jacked for the same small minded bickering. I was not trying to undermine the festival, I just had some personal observations and criticisms. I fully realise that they only apply to the events I attended, some of the stewards I met and the place I camped. It is not a blanket damning of everything and everyone to do with Towersey. I posted because I had something general to say about a festival, not because it is run by Steve Heap & Mrs Casey, and certainly not to compare it in any way with Sidmouth. This was not a political dig and if what I say can't be taken at face value then I won't bother posting here again.

One pissed off poster.....