WITH its emphasis on nature, green living and a beautiful location in the South Oxfordshire Chilterns, Wood festival was a popular fixture on the music calendar.
But when its sister, Truck, ran into financial trouble early last year, fans thought it had reached the end of the road.
That fear appeared to be confirmed when it failed to take place last year.
However, following a deal between its founders, Robin and Joe Bennett, and festival giant Vince Power, the award-winning three-day event will return to its home in the woods at Braziers Park, near Wallingford, this year with a suitably impressive line-up of national and local acts.
A wide variety of performances will grace its thatched, wooden stage over the weekend of May 17-19 They follow previous sets by the likes of Willy Mason and Frank Turner – who went on to perform at the London Olympics opening ceremony. The festival’s traditional workshops will also make a return, with sessions on everything from crafts to identifying mushrooms and trees.
The deal assures the future of the 800-capacity gathering, which was first staged in 2008 and is powered completely on renewable energy – whether solar or wind power or used chip fat.
One stage is even powered by bicycles, with revellers taking to the saddle to generate the electricity for its sound system.
And rather than using chemical toilets, the site is equipped with environmentally-friendly composting loos.
Robin Bennett said: “Last year no one felt like doing it. We were trying to keep our heads above water, and dealing with the money side of things took a lot of energy and time. Wood is done by a small group of us and we didn’t feel like arranging it after being stung so badly.
“But people really wanted it to happen. It had become part of people’s lives, so much so that some came and camped on the site over the weekend even though nothing was on. People have been coming up to me all year and asking, so I felt we had to do something.”
He added: “You get a lot of ups and downs in the festival world, as lots of factors can affect you. Putting on a festival is a big risk, so it’s nice to have the support of Vince, who has the resources and skill to guarantee it. He also shares our taste in music.”
Mr Power is the founder of the Festival Republic group and was previously involved in staging the Reading and Glastonbury festivals.
He is currently responsible for the Hop Farm festival in Kent, which was last year headlined by Bob Dylan; and the massive Benicàssim gathering in Spain.
“People love Wood because of its magical location,” says Robin, who lives in East Oxford. “It is low-key and is also more in tune with our lifestyles, with us having had kids. And while the line-up is already good, there is still a lot more to come.”
- Wood runs from May 17-19. Adult Weekend tickets are £75, including three days camping and all workshops. Children aged 12 and under free, with older kids getting in at a reduced price. www.woodfestival.com
THE LINE-UP SO FAR
- Danny and the Champions
- Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou
- Syd Arthur
- Nick Cope
- Jali Fily Cissokho
- Julie Hawk
- Flights of Helios
- Jack Day
- Maniere des Bohemiens
- The Dreaming Spires