ALMOST 17,000 people joined a mass sing-a-long to bring the weekend’s Cropredy Festival to a rousing close.

A near sell-out crowd joined members of Fairport Convention, who organise the three-day festival, in the traditional rendition of the band’s anthem Meet on The Ledge.

The folk-rock veterans’ extended set was the highpoint of a festival – officially known as Fairport’s Cropredy Convention – that attracted fans from across the world to a field outside Banbury, and was hailed as “very special” by artists.

After two days of rain and cloud, revellers were rewarded with blue skies and sunshine for the final day, which also featured sets by singer-songwriter Paul Carrack and 80s punk icon Toyah Wilcox.

Festival-goers had previously been treated to sets by Norwegian Gypsy-folk group Katzenjammer and country music legend Emmylou Harris, who played to devotees in a torrential downpour on Thursday night.

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There was a flurry of Scottish talent on Friday, including Celtic folk band Skerryvore, Talisk, Fish from prog-rock act Marillion, and The Proclaimers.

Among those enjoying the festival was BBC radio and former Old Grey Whistle Test presenter ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris, who recorded exclusive sets by many of the acts for his Under the Apple Tree sessions.

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He said: “What an amazing weekend. Cropredy is a marvellous festival; it’s an oasis with a gentle atmosphere.

“It’s like a safe harbour. The layout is always the same, with one field and one stage. It feels comfortable.”

He said the festival’s strength lay in its ability to unite families and keep people coming back year after year. He said: “It’s a festival which gets passed down through the generations.”

He added: “It is a cliché but the rain does dampen it; it is different with the sun shining, but it’s always a great festival.”

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Friday’s star Fish praised the festival, saying: “Cropredy is a very, very special place with very special people. I’ve never done a festival like this in my life. Thank you for giving us a beautiful day.”

He told the audience he had had two pints of the specially-brewed Fairport Five ale for breakfast and remarked: “There are so many Scottish bands on the bill, it feels like we’ve taken over.”

He also joined members of Fairport Convention for the finale, along with folk singer Ian Matthews, who sang on the original version of Meet on The Ledge on the band’s 1969 album What We Did on Our Holidays.

Festival director Gareth Williams said the set had been a special one, saying: “There were grown men crying.”

He added: “It’s been another great year. I’ll be back in the office this week sorting out next year’s line-up. It really is that quick. And it already looks like we’ve got a very strong Saturday to attract local people to walk-up.”

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He said the weather failed to take the shine off, adding: “If you are coming to an outdoor event in Britain, you know what to expect – and on Saturday people had a glorious day.”

The Proclaimers, identical twins Craig and Charlie Reid, also had the crowd singing – the audience waving the customary tankards in the air. They told fans: “Great to finally be here after all these years – at the home of British folk music.”

Emmylou Harris appeared with acclaimed songwriter and producer Rodney Crowell, and, despite appalling weather, cheered the crowd with a number of songs about rain. She told the audience. “You’re a beautiful sight. Thank you so much for staying with us out in the rain. Without you it wouldn’t be much fun!”

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Fairport Convention bassist Dave Pegg joined the band in opening and closing the festival. He said: “Every year is the best!”


Northern uproar: Katzenjammer

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