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Festival Fever

Festival Fever

Woo hoo, festival season is well and truly underway. You've got your Glastonferret, Hudstock, The Deer Shed Festival, Farm Fest, Blind Cat Fest and Groove Loch Ness, to name but a few.


It has to be said, I am arguably England's most reluctant festival-goer.

I've been to many an alfresco one-day music event; all sorts from Steve Wonder, Pharrell and Duran Duran, to Shalamar, Take That and just this past Saturday evening at The Henley Festival where Goldie blew the toupees and tiaras off the toffs in the audience with his unique Drum n Bass performance (I think it'll take Henley a while to get over that)....but I've only once been coerced into attending a weekend festival that actually involved pitching a tent and brushing my teeth the next morning.

It was a dance festival called Global Gathering. The year was 2010.

After having a 'Faithless' moment, my friend Victoria and I went back to our tent TO BED at 11.30pm and, ironically, we did get some sleep and couldn't wait to get out of there the next morning.

Don't get me wrong, I am not adverse to camping, or to hovering over dubious-looking toilets; to drinking warm cider out of plastic cups, or to being sardined into a large crowd of alcohol-fuelled revellers all trying to see and hear the band on stage from about 2-miles back.


But put that little list all together and I'll be the first to politely turn down the invite.

Every time Glastonbury comes around I am absolutely delighted for all my friends who've managed to secure a much sought-after ticket and who then make their pilgrimage to Worthy Farm.

The sense of excitement and anticipation they vicariously morph my way is utterly brilliant, and I'll admit to sometimes feeling a pang of envy when one of my favourite bands (London Grammar on the John Peel Stage on the Sunday night) is playing, as I know I will have missed out on a moment that could never be replayed.

But...I'd just much rather be in the comfort of my own home (particularly some years), laying on my sofa, remote in one hand, cold beer in the other, warm and clean duveted bed upstairs calling softly to me.


It's okay; I'm fully aware that I'm completely missing the point here, and any of my festival friends reading this now will be shaking their head in utter dismay.

I admit I don't know what really goes on in the Field of Avalon or Shangri-la, and I imagine you have to sign some sort of disclaimer before you go in to promise that what goes on in Avalon stays in Avalon because I've never seen any actual footage or pictures. 

I know that even if I was lucky enough to get a ticket it would be completely wasted on me, a bit like the time we flukily managed to buy Led Zeppelin tickets for their first concert together in 28 years. I mean, I like Led Zeppelin a bit, but that's sacrilegious to even murmur those words, and I'm very sorry that I took up a space when there were only 18,000 tickets available and people had travelled from as far away as Australia to be there that night!

So you get the point that me and festivals are not really a 'thing'.

But then someone (not just any old person, the actual superhero of the vet world, Noel Fitzpatrick) came up with a genius idea to combine dogs with a festival! I would of loved to have been at that planning meeting. Hours and hours spent agonising over what to call it. 

Noel and some groupies.

I guess he figured that a lot of celebrities are throwing up their own themed events all over the world. Jamie Oliver and Alex James started The Big Feastival a few years back, Chris Evans has his Carfest thing going on, and Disclosure and Rudimental are into their third year of the Wild Life festival.


But if you're imagining Dogfest to be on the same sort of scale, with a similar music/art/dance/food/entertainment offering, you'll be sorely disappointed. 

It's held over two weekends in June; the first in the North at Arley Hall in Cheshire, followed by Dogfest South at Knebworth House. This is a great way of spreading unconditional love over the whole country so that wherever you live you won't have to travel too far to attend.

We visited a very sunny Knebworth House in June. Too sunny unfortunately for a lot of dogs, including ours.

A big dog in a black fur coat.

I know this is a tricky one when you're planning what time of year to run an event like this, but when the sun actually comes out properly in England it gets really hot, and most dogs (can't think of an exception here) just don't want to be wandering around a large open field, stopping every five minutes so their owners can browse the stalls and watch the events (agility, hay bale racing, Big Tick Dog Walk, displays and dog diving in the K9 Aquasports pool).


Come to think of it, it's a massive struggle to get my boys (the big and little one) to go to any events like this with me, so when it's a boiling hot day their enthusiasm is about as perky as a slug in a salt cellar.

Oliver made some lovely new friends though.

Maybe if it hadn't been so hot (never satisfied) we would've enjoyed it more, or should I say, the dogs may have enjoyed it more, because after all, this is a festival for dogs, not humans (that's what the website says).

Don't forget your sunscreen little hairless dog.

New friends were made.

Funnily enough, when I asked Nancy, Buster and Frank if they'd had a good day they said it was bloody boiling and very boring just looking at shops and other dogs doing fun things.

A hot and bothered Frank trying on a waterproof outfit from The Dog Trouser Company.

You have to listen to your audience, I say, so my advice to Mr Fitzpatrick (who I actually love and hugely respect...what that guy can do with a screwdriver and a few bits of Meccano is mindblowing) would be to stage it in early May or late September, and if you can't do that, then change the opening times to be a late afternoon/evening event. Then I'd ramp up the music line-up so you've got some well-known bands (with their dogs?) and also get some excellent catering going on. I'm sure Noel must have some cheffy friends in high places. Perhaps he knows Jamie Oliver...

I think then it would be a much more attractive offering, way more 'festival' like and would tranform it from a tradeshow-type event into an actual festival.

It is called Dogfest after all.

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