Interview with Lakefest's Lee MartinPosted on Wed 15th July 2015
The last time we spoke to Lee Martin, Festival Director of Lakefest, was ahead of their inaugural event back in 2012. We thought it was about time we met up for a pint at The Crown Inn Kemerton, near Tewkesbury, to discuss all things Lakefest.
FFA: How has the Lakefest journey been?
LM: Mate (seems standard response from all Festival Directors these days), it’s been interesting. When we started Lakefest the only experience we had was of putting on a Wurzles gig, so it’s fair to say we were learning on the fly. Over the years, the festival has got bigger and we sold out in 2014 for the first time and this year we are on track to sell out well before the event, really no BS.
We have all become more ‘festival savvy’. When we started it was a case of booking the bands we liked, now we look for good festival bands… plus what we like. When we started out we didn’t want to be just another festival, we wanted to get it right and create that ‘festival experience’ for everyone; a bit of escapism from the normal day-to-day, and I think we have achieved that.
As a festival, we recognise the importance of trust and the dependency on all aspects of the festival, that’s why we still have most of the suppliers on board that we did on day one, it’s a bit like a family.
FA: Would you say this year’s line up is the best to date?
LM: Yeah I really believe it is, as a family festival we are only too aware that we have to put a line-up together that suits the whole family, so in addition to great headliners Ash, Billy Bragg, Embrace, New Model Army and The Magic Numbers we have the likes of Goldie Lookin Chain and The Cheeky Girls. We have also attracted some great festival bands who some of our regulars may not be familiar with, but we are confident they will love, like Dreadzone and Hayseed Dixee.
We also work closely with local BBC stations who provide a stage of the best emerging local talent.
FFA: What can we expect on the lake this year?
LM: The lake forms a critical part of the festival (as the name suggests), there will be activities throughout the day from a leisurely pedalo ride, to water skiing where the boat is trying to make the skier fall over, it’s excellent to watch but a bit scary to do! Good fun, though. In the evening we have a laser display, which looks spectacular against the backdrop.
FFA: Lakefest is a family event, what activities do you have lined up this year?
LM: Loads, we are expecting about 1,000 kids this year, so we have increased the kids area and have lots of new activities for them to try this year, including: BMX Skills, Kite Making, Face Painting, Circus Skills, Walk-about Dragons and Story-telling, Glamba Drumming Workshop, Children’s Yoga, Magic Lanterns, Clay Modelling, Drawing and Painting Tables, Jewellery Making and not to forget the Lakefest Treasure Hunt. So, as you can see, there’s enough to make the kids forget about the computer for three days.
FFA: Lakefest prides itself on being an inclusive festival, have you needed to make any improvements this year?
LM: Yeah, I hate discrimination so we have tried to do everything we can to ensure that both able-bodied and disabled customers have a great weekend. Last year we allowed wheelchair customer access to the front of the stage for some acts. Having said that, there is always room for improvement; earlier this year I experienced the challenges our wheelchair customers face when I went from the entrance to the main stage in a wheelchair. I was exhausted and the experience made me understand some of the difficulties that our wheelchair users were up against on-site, so this year we are putting in some tracks to make it easier.
FFA: Is giving something back to the community important to Lakefest
LM: Absolutely, each year we raise money for local charities. This year, our chosen charities are CLIC Sargent and Stay Strong. Both are close to our hearts and we ensure that we do as much as we can to support the great work that they do. CLIC Sargent is the UK’S leading cancer charity for children and young people, and Stay Strong supports a great friend, Stephen Murray, with the incredible work he does to unite and inspire people from all over the world.
FFA: Lakefest offers a wide range of glamping, is this driven by customer demand
LM: One of the benefits of holding the event at Croft Farm, is that it’s an activity centre so accommodation comes with the site, so we started off with their dormitories but due to demand we decided to add tipi’s which overlook the lake. For a family festival I feel there is a demand for glamping as it enables them to enjoy the experience of the festival without being in a crowded campsite.
FFA: With ticket sales being so good this year, surely Lakefest 2016 is a done deal?
LM: No doubt… we’ll be back! We are looking at lots of exciting things and have a pretty huge announcement to make at the end of the Lakefest weekend, so keep your ears pricked and eyes peeled!!
Article by: Mick Game
Photo's from Lakefest 2014 by: Dibs McCallum Photography