THE 10th Witney Music Festival in May is set to be a blockbuster event with more than 80 bands already signed up to take part.

Band slots for the May 22-31 festival are almost fully booked and organiser Stuart Foster is urging any musicians keen to get involved to get in touch now.

He said: “We used to try to just get bands from Witney but now, as the festival grows, and our Facebook and Twitter pages have grown, we get a lot more interest from around Oxfordshire as well.

“We have loads of bands, which is unthinkable. We already have 80 and we’re going to get lots more. We had just 20 in our first year.”

Mr Foster set the festival up in 2006, after his little sister Jo Marie died in November 2005 at the age of 21, leaving behind her baby daughter Katie, who is now 10.

He holds the festival each year in his sister’s memory, with his family’s support.

The 34-year-old added: “Jo liked the opposite music to me, like R&B. And she loved the festival idea, as I had wanted to do a festival before she died.

“She was very much a ‘let’s do it’ type of person.

“She died with her daughter in her arms. We still don’t know how. Doctors say it was natural causes, her heart just stopped in her sleep.”

The festival usually only lasts for a couple of days but this year the team is pulling out all the stops and running the event for 10 days in a row.

Bands of all types will be booked to perform at The Leys and pubs and clubs around Witney.

Mr Foster said: “We have quite a range of music. We always try and keep to our tagline of ‘Music for all’.

“So people might not like some music but then they might a bit down the road. There is always something for everyone.

“Obviously people can’t do a 10-day stretch but they can go home and relax and then come back.

“It’s all about supporting the venues and local bands.”

The festival is run by Stuart and his partner Rebecca Timms, and has the support of his whole family, with even 10-year-old Katie acting as DJ on The Leys one year.

Mr Foster added: “Katie is going to take over the festival when she’s 18. I always ask her about it but she just shrugs. She is very like her mother.”