When I was drafted in by the glawning team to help out at their annual charity festival Glampfest I had only ever met James once before and somehow he’d managed to get me to become his work horse for several days. I started on the Wednesday morning with energy and a smile naive as to the amount of work that needed to be done. Fuelled by out of date peanuts and tea, we fought for hours putting up the gazebos which drained me both physically and emotionally and STILL no one commented on our excellent craftsmanship of those beautifully structured and secured gazebos that weekend! When I was finally allowed to leave on the Wednesday night I was exhausted and now terrified for what was yet to come.
For some reason I returned Friday and was set right away to the most crucial part of the festival - decorating. With enough lights to compete with Blackpool Illuminations, putting them all up became a thankless task with constant discussion from everyone, who now suddenly each had a Design degree (to be fair one actually did), about the positioning, of which I was the one called upon to fix and move the lights to find which of the 50 positions they preferred.
When people began to arrive I took my position behind the bar and unintentionally it became a location I feel most would recognise me from. From here I met most of you and began to understand and get a feel for the community vibe that is connected with Glawning, however this could have been the alcohol.
Throughout the Friday night, despite no one knowing where to get drink tokens from, we served plenty of drinks from Rudgate Ales to speciality gin and the cocktails (which were surprisingly popular with the blokes). From behind the bar I could see the whole space and had a great view of the two brilliant sets. So despite it being a lot of hard work, when there was time to look around and see everyone having a good time and the lights looking okay despite being in the wrong position, I felt a sense of excitement for what was to come and a craving to do more to make it an even better experience.
With Friday coming to an end I was told I’d be sleeping with the medics in their tent. The only issue being they didn’t know and were asleep already. So it came as no surprise to hear, whilst in the queue for shower the next morning, one of the medics explain to someone about how some drunk guy had rudely crashed into his tent during the night and he had found him passed out next to him in the morning. Luckily as the tent we shared was a Glawning there was plenty of space for all three of us along with all our bags and kit. What a great investment that was.
On Saturday morning only just out of bed I was put to work and was placed on Breakfast duty. Sorry for the big queues. It wasn’t the greatest of starts. It felt like a war scene, smoke billowing out behind us, orders being fired our way left, right and centre and no matter how fast we got those sausage and bacon cobs out people just kept coming. Luckily for James I made it out alive so was still able to work some more.
The rest of the day, although of course still working, I started to feel really connected to the festival and the community within it and felt I matched perfectly to Glampfest like Harry has to Meghan or Glawning has to quality camping experiences. With plenty of sun, laughter and smiling Saturday had set itself out perfectly as the star day of Glampfest with various activities such as the sports day and having the kids viscously hunt down and attack the ‘sweetie man’ going down well.
Saturday gave us some great performances under the marquee with Josh Gleaves and Zac Carpenter giving us an outstanding performance and brilliant covers. Followed by the return of the band Barr Lane with another brilliant set but there was two stand out performances for me, the first of which were the Dads whose dancing competition produced a lot of blood, sweat and tears along with plenty of embarrassment for each of their counterparts and children. However this was nothing compared to the performance produced to us by DJ Rory Hoy. The man who controlled us like string puppets with an outstanding set. I’ve seen Snoop dog, Noel Gallagher and Madness live (not at the same time) and this was up there with them.
I stayed rooted behind the bar for nearly the whole of Saturday with clear instructions which I did not want to disobey - “make sure to remain suitably drunk tonight.” Now my version of ‘suitably’ and its intended meaning altered as the night progressed to the point that my night became more enjoyable and more of a daze as the clock went by. As my alcohol level and confidence rose throughout the night it allowed me to have some great conversations with all sorts of people and it became a real privilege (from what I remember) getting to know all you interesting people with your stories, opinions and tales. However with no complaints and even praise as to how much people loved the bar I still never received any tips!
When Saturday night came to an end and the “we hate Miriam” chants echoed round the marquee (she kicked everyone out for midnight curfew) I had managed to make good friends with the band and an after party followed on in their caravan which was a surreal moment and a highlight of my festival. However as great as that moment was for me when returning to my tent the photographer (who happened to be out for an early morning stroll) had reported to the boss seeing me clambering through every bush on the site at 4.30am trying to get home.
Despite my late night I was still expected to report to my war zone duty at breakfast and repeat that harrowing task in recovery. Sunday saw no one really looking their best as the heavy headed pack down and departure for most began. The success of Glampfest was apparent and the failures seemed very well hidden.
I returned to the scene of the crime on the Monday ready to remove any evidence the festival ever took place. But this time I looked back over the weekend and despite being worked to the bone I was happy that I’d taken part and against my better judgement will return next year.