GALE-Force winds and torrential rain failed to wipe away the smiles of thousands of music lovers who gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Cropredy Festival.

A glittering, and surprisingly diverse, line-up of acts joined the three-day gathering at Cropredy, near Banbury, which came to a close on Saturday with a two-and-a-half hour set by hosts Fairport Convention, who launched the event in 1979.

The band, who also opened the event with an acoustic set on Thursday lunchtime, provided a powerful finale, culminating in their traditional closing numbers, Matty Groves and Meet on the Ledge – which had the crowd in the 20,000 capacity field singing-along.

They were joined by a number of special guests including Joe Brown who recently moved to a house in Cropredy.

Never ones to shy away from politics, the band made an impassioned plea for an end to commercial whaling, with fiddle player Chris Leslie sporting a hat bearing the logo of the Sea Shepherd whaling saboteur group.

Guitarist and singer Dave Pegg meanwhile made a stand against Brexit by playing with a European flag attached to the neck of his guitar.

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Frank Turner

Other musical highlights at the festival, formally called Fairport’s Cropredy Convention, included an energetic show by Ukrainian-American party band Gogol Bordello, whose charismatic frontman Eugene Hutz had the crowd dancing while he swigged and spilled red wine from a bottle.

Read more: Richard Thompson: 'I'm still learning to play the guitar'

Also going down well with fans were The Waterboys, fronted by Mike Scott, Devon folk star Seth Lakeman, Banbury folk-rockers Leatherat, and Hampshire singer-songwriter Frank Turner, whose backing band The Sleeping Souls features Oxford artists Tarrant Anderson and Ben Lloyd of the bands Dustball and Dive Dive.

But the act everyone was talking about was singer-songwriter Richard Thompson, a former member of Fairport Convention and considered one of the world’s finest guitarists.

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Cropredy legend has it that every time he plays the festival, he brings the rain – and so it proved on Friday, when his arrival on stage was met with torrential downpours. He acknowledged the fact by commiserating with the audience, who braved the weather for a stunning show.

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Festival director Gareth Williams said: “There’s an unofficial tradition that Richard is the rain god and he does seem to bring it with him!

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“But everyone had a good time at our 40th anniversary bash. The weather proved challenging but we closely monitored the situation and took measures to mitigate the effects of the wind and increase the resilience of our structures – and everyone enjoyed a great festival.”

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