Blaydon Festival

Paul Davenport visits a new festival

Sidmouth, Whitby, Blaydon ... all great festivals well worth the visit.

Blaydon though, that one stands out as something a bit special. If you ask locals in east Devon or North Yorkshire it's a fair guess that the locals know where Sidmouth or Whitby are. Of course everyone on Tyneside knows where Blaydon is but even the next door neighbours didn't know about the fabulous venue. The Path Head Water Mill is a lovely heritage site which provided a perfect sheltered haven for a brilliant event.

Now to the point. Folk festival but not a jingly bell to be heard. Now that's a first (er... I think). Here in this idyllic dell beside the gently rippling brook we waited for a sight of the wildlife. Soon we were rewarded by the sight of the shy lesser spotted rapper dancer. In this quiet festival location the dance displays were provided entirely by stepping swordy folks from the locality. The Addison lads started the dance displays and gave High Spen Blue Diamond something to follow. The more genteel young ladies from Ryton High School also gave a contribution in between acting as stewards and being generally smiley and welcoming. High Spen rose to the challenge and delivered a storming performance and then we all went to the excellent real ale bar. Despite the high quality of the Big Lamp ale supplies (or because of it?) the afternoon session was of equal worth and still not a jingle to be heard.

The concept of a festival which celebrates local traditions is not original but this was special. The audience were, as North-Easterners are, knowledgeable and interested. The dancing was accepted as part of the scenery in a way that only Cotswold in Bampton seems to be. There were, of course, no passing general public so perhaps that's to be expected. There was, however a real sense of the Rapper being solidly at home at the event which itself happened for the first time on 10th & 11th June this year. Watch out for this one, even better try to blag a chance to dance in this naturally rapper friendly eco-site.