It looks like the new Generation Why team are a bit more picky about the kinds of things that get published – my seemingly innocuous report from the 2006 Wychwood Festival was subtly edited, so I’m posting the original as well as the link.

My piece on Wychwood 2006 for Oxfam’s Generation Why.

The original piece:

Wychwood 2006: And They’re Off!

For Oxfam volunteers, the Wychwood Folk Festival marks the beginning of the stewarding season. Located amid the rolling hills of the Gloucestershire countryside, it offers the best in contemporary folk music and an intimate, friendly vibe. Old hands and newbies alike found it the perfect start to the summer.

The weekend kicked off on Thursday evening with a typically informative and entertaining briefing session (who would have thought that fire extinguisher dry powder is a mild laxative?). Stewards received their day-glo tabards and work assignments, and then were left to their own devices. Most immediately checked their shifts against the list of performance times, and for me the rest of the first evening was spent with my co-campers accompanying a violin and two tin whistles using a frisbee as a percussion device.

Friday saw my first stewarding shift – I’d pulled “floating” duty, which means filling in where extra people are needed and (often) delivering tea and coffee to thirsty volunteers. Sent out to the farthest reaches of the site, our team enforced a laissez-faire one-way system, investigated several suspicious fires (mostly barbecues) and kept a weather eye on the campers. For some reason, we had a steady stream of people wanting to pitch tents on the racecourse (a strict no-no).

Saturday’s shift was more traffic management, this time at the opposite end of the site under a baking sun (but next to a field full of kites). Tour buses arrived, dropping off suspiciously clean-looking musicians, a steam train chugged by every hour or so, and crew vehicles zoomed around on patrol.

My final shift was the dreaded “graveyard” overnighter, but thankfully I was placed on the main campsite entrance – meaning that I saw and spoke to just about everyone coming back to their tent after a hard weekend’s partying. Everyone was uniformly tired, happy and trying not to think about starting work again. Once dawn broke, the festival started to wind down and it was all over for another year. Had it really been three days already?

This article gives a (very!) brief look at stewarding, but there was so much else going on it would take another few articles to get everything in. The standard of music was unbelievable (if you ever get the chance to see the Peatbog Faeries, go!), and the Silent Disco made a very welcome appearance. There were countless workshops (in things like poi and ocharina making), films, stand-up comedians, ethnic stalls and some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had.

For more stories and photographs from Wychwood 2006, check out the galleries on the Oxfam Stewards forums!

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