All the festival components were there for Cambridges Strawberry Fair on Midsummer Common, even the occasional glimpses of sunshine. There were the big yellow falafel boards, Groovy Movie, the Mexican Hammock Company, henna tattooists, the usual stalls and shops, and there appeared to be more people than ever this year.
All seven stages had enough variety to tantalise any music tastes, from rock, drum n bass, folk, reggae, blues and hip hop. The dance stage was by far the most popular drawing in a great crowd of dancers waving their hands in the air throughout and DJ Nu Tone and JD N Soza were whipping the crowd to a frenzy in the hot afternoon. Around the edges of the swollen crowd there were families chillin out watching the fun.
The press of people caused us to retreat to the acoustic stage, which also just happened to have a real bar with its own beer fairy! It was Attila the Stockbrokers own distinct brand of poetry and song which brought me there not the beer, honest! As we soaked in the site we could see the East Stage with the frenetic The Mono Effect obviously in form. Everyone we spoke to recommended local boys Broken Family Band who drew in a crowd and performed folk tunes that everyone just had to dance to.
We headed off to check out the Young Performers Tent and a good sized crowd assembled to hear Princess Drive and Die Away From Die play but the crowd were tightly packed and it was very warm and loud inside so we were forced to heed our daughters protests to leave.
Which was fine because directly outside was the kids area. The fun included the Foolhardy Circus tent with its chicanery and laughs for young and old. One of Strawberrys strengths is this part of the festival.
Our girl was soon delighted by Blunderfudge performing fire juggling stunts on the outdoor stage. There were swing boats, a couple of climbing frames, bouncy castle, maze, the Bubble Shop and lots of open space. This chilled out part of the festival contains an active crowd with poi, juggling and diabolo skills all being practised.
We followed a pair of giant luminous muppets (really) up to the main drag and tried to decide what to eat from the usual varied choice on offer. As we sat and ate, a tall man wearing big shades and a cowboy hat serenaded us with a big old beatbox and a microphone. Fortunately his stay was brief before he drifted off into the crowd.
We passed the main bar with its trademark strawberries and headed off through the blaze of colourful stalls looking for a cheap henna tattoo. We found ourselves in the relaxing green area then headed back to listen to the frankly bizarre tunes of the wigwam stage. The scratch off boxes in the programme for the line up added to the mayhem and as you couldnt reveal the bands we had no idea who we saw!
We returned to the acoustic stage for Low Country. They are one of my highlights with a wonderful voice and intimate country tunes. We sat outside at a table facing west and watched the sunset supping on delicious ale, while listening to her lovely singing, it was a magical festival moment.
As it darkened we head to the East Stage to dance along to Tarantism with their Celtic Ska beats. It was a little flat until the end when they raised their game with a stomping encore! Closing the show were Nucleus Roots who got us all dancing to their reggae groove. It was a great set and then all too soon it was over.
And thats the only downside to this fantastic one day festival, its over far too quickly! We all had a great time and wandered along the canal on a high. The canal side was chilling, with happy laughing coming from the moored canal boats. As we passed the make shift campsite we heard the beats of The Streets and saw invitingly swirling blue glowsticks, for some clearly there was more partying to be had. But for us it was all over and we were back in the city.
review by: Scott Williams
photos by: Karen Williams
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