Chippenham Folk Festival celebrates 50th year

·2 min read

A folk festival is celebrating its 50th birthday after taking to the stage in a Wiltshire town for another year.

The Chippenham Folk Festival got under way on Friday and runs across the weekend.

The festival began in Lacock before moving to Chippenham, and has taken place every year since 1972, except for a year off during the pandemic.

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Chairman Torquil McInnes said while it has evolved since its inception "in essence, it's still the same".

Featuring dance and arts, as well as songs and music, it takes place in various venues across the town.

Mr McInnes said it was "great they've managed to keep it together", especially "through recessions and various things that have happened."

"It's great for the town. Not everyone likes it, we can't pretend that - but most people do, with thousands of people coming to the park to watch the parades," he said.

A community stage features for the first time, showcasing local talent.

Looking back at his time as a campsite warden for the first ever festival, Dick Stanger told BBC Radio Wiltshire: "Artistically it was fantastic.

"Festivals hadn't seen that variety. Streets were crowded.

"People liked the bill, they liked the setting and they knew they could come for a good weekend."

Gary Nunn, who played that year, said it was the folk event of the year.

"Everybody who was anybody, locals and nationals, were invited," he said.

'Bigger and bigger'

He particularly remembers the dancers in the street and the packed out pubs.

"Nobody knew what a festival was," he continued.

"We just went and had a wonderful time. It seemed to be going on for hours and hours," he added.

Mr Nunn said the festival had just got bigger and bigger since it moved to Chippenham in 1975.

"It's just been a really great festival. One of the great events for Wiltshire really," he said.

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