Valley Fest returned to the Chew Valley for its fourth year – we sent Nejla Walker along to get the inside scoop
Valley Fest 2018 was one of the friendliest and most family orientated festivals I have ever been too. It started in 2014 and is dedicated to a passion for fun, food and frivolity. The farm itself is a community-owned social enterprise growing and selling organic produce throughout the year, meaning the food at the festival is as important as the music and mayhem.
I took my husband and six year old with me who have both been before and my little boy was beside himself ready to run wild on the beautiful site when we entered on Saturday morning. The view of the lake in the sun was enticing as ever and we could hear the music and merriment in full swing.
The campsite was beautiful with wonderful views and proper toilets which were kept completely clean with paper, soap and hand-washing water all weekend. The tractor and trailer ride from the car park to the camping area was very welcome, especially in the heat, and took a lot of the pain out of setting up camp.
Firstly, we made our way to The Yard, a large open space running silly games such as a hobby horse gymkhana and a daily super hero academy dress up, to the backdrop of excellent music from a DJ in a fire engine. Next to this was a couple of classic fairground rides which we had to go on and on and on……
We decided to refuel at Skewered with freshly cooked meats, salads and pittas, a family favourite. The food across the whole site all looked really good, with pizzas, organic burgers, vegan stalls and, of course, Yeo Valley ice cream for pudding. On Sunday, unfortunately we had to leave before the slow roasted lamb side had cooked, which looked amazing.
We missed the Family Pick and Cook session this year at Hogsnorts Farm Academy but did go to see the birds of prey, ferrets and farm animals and then spent some time in the craft punk area. This was where the children could make and create things, learn circus skills and do hula hooping. There were giant draft boards and Jenga and all things to keep them amused right next to The Ring O Bells bar to keep the adults amused too. The festival was a wonderland for children with fun activities around every corner.
We finally managed to get to see some music at The Lake Stage early evening and found ourselves dancing to Dizraeli and DJ Downlow, both entertaining and energising. In some ways, with so much to do for the children the music seemed more like background noise during the day, but it all added to the atmosphere. Later there was Cut a Shine Ceilidh in The Barnstormer which was brilliant fun, followed by some drum and bass once the kids had been put to bed.
One other major plus point was never feeling overcrowded either on the camp site or the main site. There was always plenty of space to sit, relax and stretch out and there were never any big queues at the food stalls, bars or tents. Overall this is one festival that I will keep returning to so long as it remains uncrowded and so family friendly.