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Festival team: 'We'll keep on Trucking'
THE new team behind Oxfordshire’s Truck Festival says the event is here to stay after music-lovers enjoyed an “amazing” weekend in the sun.
About 5,000 people turned out for the event at Hill Farm, Steventon on Friday and Saturday to enjoy tunes from more than 60 bands.
Truck Festival has taken place at Hill Farm, Steventon, for the past 15 years. But despite continued growth and a loyal following from festival-goers, last year’s expanded festival made a loss, forcing founders Robin and Joe Bennett to put the company into administration.
Relieving fears that last summer's would be the last, the event was saved by a new operator, Y-Not Festivals, and, to the delight of dedicated 'Truckers' took place at its traditional home.
It featured sets by more than 30 bands - including indie-rockers Temper Trap, British Sea Power, Mystery Jets, The Low Anthem and comedian Tim Minchin.
Organisers, who had billed it as a more compact and affordable "back to basics" festival, said the event had been a huge success - and would be back again next year.
Organiser Ralph Broadbent said: "It was amazing. It was good to see people having so much fun, and the bands were cracking. The mood and vibe has been great.
"The weather was unbelievable. We had hoped it would be dry but we ended up with the hottest festival of the summer. The sun was so overdue - and hit at just the right time.
"We set out to take Truck back to what it was a few years ago. We wanted to keep it great but fix it - and it has paid off. Truck is back - and we'll definitely be here next year."
He expected the festival to make a small profit, describing it as "a massive step in the right direction."
His personal musical favourites, he said, came from Tim Minchin, rockers 65daysofstatic and local acts Alphabet Backwards.
Organisers said no major problems were reported over the weekend, with just one person arrested, for jumping the fence.
Many people's highlight of the festival was the set by new Oxford band Flights of Helios. The group played to a large crowd on the festival's barn stage.
Singer Chris Beard said: "It went well and was good fun. It has been a great Truck - and the weather has been great."
Keyboardist, and former model, Seb Reynolds, said: "We were so grateful to people for supporting us. It was an amazing experience."
The Bennett brothers, who hail from Steventon, and initially founded the festival as a birthday party for Robin, received a warm reception performing with their country-rock band Dreaming Spires.
Though no longer involved in the running of the festival, they had worked hard to hand over the event to its new organisers, ensuring the event retained its distinctive friendly and non-commercial atmosphere.
Joe, also played the main stage, performing on slide guitar with the band Co-Pilgrim.
Robin, who celebrated his birthday on Friday, said: "It's nice that Truck has continued, retained its community element and has lots of Oxford music scene representation. It felt pretty similar to how it did two or three years ago.
"I really enjoyed it and for my family it was nice to be under less pressure."
For the first time, this year's Truck had a fancy dress theme, with festival-goers coming in costume as wild animals. Rachel Bobeckyj, from Bridport in Dorset, had spent days making her tiger suit - complete with flashing lights.
She said: "I wanted to come as a big cat because I am known as Tiger Girl.
"This was my 10th Truck - I heard about it years ago from someone at Glastonbury and have been coming ever since. I love it."
Also donning matching stripes were Lisa Tofte, from Wantage, and Vicky Cherry from Boarstall, near Bicester. Vicky said: "We have had a great time. It has been lots of fun and the bands were great. Alphabet Backwards are the best band ever."
As well as being a crucial date in Oxfordshire's musical calendar, the festival is also an important fundraiser for local good causes. The parish church sells ice cream, Didcot Rotary Club sells burgers and chips and Rotarians from Oxford Spires and Faringdon sell Indian food and pizza respectively.
The president of Didcot Rotary Club Colin Campbell, 55, was serving burgers to hungry campers with his team of more than 100 Rotarians, friends and local Girl Guides.
He said: "It was hard work and we worked long hours - from midday until 2am - but we made a lot of money for charity."
He hoped to have raised about £20,000 over the course of the weekend, which will go to Rotary charities - supporting everything from the local Guides to a hospital in Uganda.
He added: "Truck was better this year. There was a very mixed crowd, with young people but also some who were older than me. We are glad Truck is back - and now, as well as a good rest, we are looking forward to next year."