ABOUT 20,000 folk-lovers joined a midnight sing-along, bringing to an end three days of live music at Oxfordshire’s biggest music festival.

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention, the event organised and staged by folk-rock band Fairport Convention, drew to its traditional end at midnight yesterday – with a spirited chorus of the band’s best-loved hit Meet on the Ledge.

The event, billed as Britain’s friendliest festival, has been staged in the village of Cropredy, near Banbury, every year since 1980.

And fans – many of whom make the annual pilgrimage to North Oxfordshire every year – have given this year’s event a big thumbs up.

Campers were treated to one of the finest weekends of the summer, with three days of sunshine, as well as an eclectic line-up, which again saw the festival move away from its folk roots.

Highlights included folk-reggae band Dreadzone, rock artist Steve Winwood of ’60s band Traffic, guitarist Richard Thompson, West Country artist Seth Lakeman, 80s pop star Nik Kershaw, singer-songwriter Ralph McTell, and punk band the Buzzcocks.

But the highlight once again proved to be the customary three-hour finale by Fairport Convention, who appeared on stage with a number of special guests – including singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens.

Among those enjoying the festival was broadcasting legend Bob Harris – former presenter of the Old Grey Whistle Test.

He said: “We love coming to Cropredy, and it has been particularly good meeting up with Yusuf, who is a lovely guy.

“There’s a great atmosphere here and it’s great to catch up with old friends.”

Yusuf told the Oxford Mail he was delighted to have been invited to join the line-up yesterday – appearing on stage with Fairport and Richard Thompson, a former member.

He said: “I was signed to Island Records in the early 70s at around the same time as Fairport, so I’ve known the group for many years. I love their music, and have been influenced by their traditional English folk style myself.

“I’m also a big fan of Richard Thompson – he’s one of my favourite guitarists.”

Among local folk fans to make the annual pilgrimage to Cropredy was guitarist Vincent Long, from Jericho, Oxford. He said: “This is a lovely festival, which is quite unlike any other. The people are nice and there is always a great vibe here which keeps me coming back.”

Also camping was London musician Reid Morrison, from the band Treetop Flyers.

He said: “The strength of this festival is that there is only one stage – just like Woodstock! Everyone is watching the same bands, which creates a special feeling of togetherness.

“And the mood is helped by the fact that the festival has a great real ale bar. They don't serve any rubbish here!”

Holly Reading, from East Oxford, is also a regular.

She said: “It's been great fun. The weather was brilliant, which helped, but the bands themselves were also really good – especially Fairport Convention, who I have always loved. They go down really well, especially with a few cans of scrumpy cider!”

Festival spokesman Stevie Horton, said: “Everybody has been saying that it was the best festival yet. Everyone had a great time. The music was fantastic and the weather was great – which really helps!”

The next festival will take place from August 12 to 14, 2010.