Chagstock organiser exclusive eFestivals interview

Si Ford talks about this summer's event

published: Tue 28th Feb 2012

Chagstock 2009

Friday 20th to Saturday 21st July 2012
near Chagford, Devon, England
£65 for a weekend adult, camping and parking are free - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 5000
last updated: Thu 19th Jul 2012

eFestivals interviewed Chagstock organiser Si Ford ahead of the early bird ticket offer ending. The festival is held on Dartmoor in Devon over the weekend of Friday 20th and Saturday 21st July has previously already announced headliner KT Tunstall, plus Ruarri Joseph, The Travelling Band, Big Boy Bloater, Kate McGill, New Crisis, Monkey Gland Blues Band, Martin Harley Band, and Juan Zelada. The early bird offer ends tomorrow.

Chagstock 2009
Can you describe Chagstock to anyone who hasn't been before?
We're a family friendly small sized festival in a Beautiflu location on the north edge of Dartmoor, with lots of great acts from local and regional up to national, and international.

We have lots of kids entertainment as well as the music. We don't charge for camping or parking, that's all free. It's a throughly great weekend really. This year we've got KT Tunstall on the Friday night, which I'm really excited about, and hopefully shortly to announce the main headliner for the Saturday as well.

When do you think you'll announce them?
I would have thought in the next couple of weeks.

What gave you the inspiration to start Chagstock?
Like a few other festivals I've heard about, it actually started as a party in the back garden, back in 2003. I had a few friends down from various parts of the country, and it turned into a bit of a weekend. It grew and grew, and I did that for three years, then I thought, "well I enjoy doing this, let's look to taking it public."

I then looked into all the licensing, and so on and the first one was run in 2007, and it's been growing ever since. Last year was our fifth annivsary.

So, it's in it's sixth year now, and did you intend it to be an annual event?
No, not really it just happened that way.It's like a rolling stone it just got bigger and bigger.

Talking of getting bigger, any plans to keep increasing the size of Chagstock in future?
I want to keep it to a maximum of 5,000 now I don't want to get any bigger than that. We've got a great atmosphere, we don't get overcrowded, and I want to keep that feel to it. We have around 3,000 people at the moment.

What sort of audience do you attract?
All sorts to be honest from baies up to 90 year olds, and everything in between.

Did you go to festivals before you founded Chagstock?
I've not been a huge festival goer, I've been to a lot more since I started Chagstock, but previous to that I went to Reading in 1977. That was my main experience of festivals. I've always had a passion for music, and this is an effective way to take advantage of that. There's a massive amount of talent in this area. The South West has produced some pretty good names Muse, Coldplay, Joss Stone, and so on, and still is with the likes of Ben Howard, and so on. It's doing well now.

Some people are saying that festivals are still booming and some people are saying festivals are in trouble in these hard financial times, what's your take on it?
It's been a tough couple of years generally, and this was hard to keep going, but our numbers have grown and grown, and I think people will still want to go out and fun. I think they may not spend hundreds of pounds, but take in a couple of festivals. Michael Eavis has been saying that festivals are on the way out, but I think he's wrong. I think the smaller festivals are finding more people coming to them, because their audiences are finding they have a better time.

Maybe, he's right about the bigger festivals. There are a lot people who for years and years have gone to the bigger festivals who are growing up and having families and I want something a little bit smaller and more manageable.

For people coming to Chagstock for the first time, what essentials should they bring?
It being Dartmoor you can't guarantee what the weather is going to do, so, some warm clothes, as well as your suntan lotion. Come with an open mind and have fun, you don't need to camp but come and camp if you want. Bring the family, and enjoy the music we provide. We provide quite a range of different types of music, we don't like to label ourselves as this type of festival or that kind of festival. We try to put on a whole range of styles. We've got two stages, a big outdoor stage, an indoor marquee stage, and we've also got what we call "a little live lounge" which is tucked away in the corner for smaller, solo and duo acts.

There's planty going on, lots of caterers and traders, and things to keep people entertained. Come along and enjoy the party.

How well are ticket sales going so far?
Very well. We have an early bird offer until the end of this month, and we announced KT Tunstall and that's seen a big boost in ticket sales. I'm really looking forward to this year I think it's going to be a good one.

Did you have to work hard to get KT?
Well, you always have to work hard dealing with agents, and it's hard work sometimes to get the response you want. But Chagstock has built a reputation over the years and people are taking us much more seriously. A lot of people know about us now.

If you could book any act who would you love to have grace your stage?
It's probably a bit unrealistic but it would be nice to have one of the big acts that's come out of the South West in the last few years. In terms of where they're from there's a lot of their fans down here, and I know our capacity is not huge, but we certainly look after people. It would be nice to have one of those acts, but that's a dream I think at the moment.

Muse did play a fairly small gig in their town in Teignmouth, you never know.
Indeed, maybe they'll read eFestivals and see you'd like to book them.

Now in its 6th year Chagstock is a family friendly festival, suitable for young and not so young alike, staged on open fields on the north edge of Dartmoor with panoramic views of the surrounding area. Chagstock also offers other entertainment, including a Pirate Ship for kids, Stilt Walkers and Face Painters etc around the site.

Early bird tickets are available until the end February. An adult weekend ticket is priced at £50 (normal price £65). A teen (12-17 years) weekend ticket is priced at £35 (normal price £40), and a family weekend ticket is priced at £150 (normal price £170). Under 12s can attend for free. Tickets include free camping and parking, and day tickets also available.

To buy tickets, click here
interview by: Scott Williams

Friday 20th to Saturday 21st July 2012
near Chagford, Devon, England
£65 for a weekend adult, camping and parking are free - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 5000
last updated: Thu 19th Jul 2012

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