Now in it’s sixth year, Just So Festival returned like a Lewis Carroll Brigadoon and once again delivered a magical family experience.
Populated by face-painted kids, wellie-booted parents and a dizzying array of bands, theatre companies and performers, Rode Hall Farm (just outside Congleton) was transformed into a glittering celebration of childhood and imagination.
This was our third year at the festival and despite the torrential downpours on Saturday (complete with Mordor-style forked lightning) and winds on Sunday (bye bye gazebo…) it was the best one yet.
Highlights included stand-up comedian James Campbell – hilarious for all ages, he managed to capture the kids’ attention without patronising or dumbing down. Funny is funny, no matter the age group.
Geoff Bird read from his new childrens’ book Two Parts Mischief (the first book to be released by the newly launched Wild Rumpus publishing), accompanied by some improvised harp and clarinet. In the still of the woodland theatre, the crowd was entranced by this touching and heartfelt tale of a boy dealing with sadness.
Down at the Footlights stage we were treated to some blinding bands, including the deliciously bonkers Seas of Mirth, the consistently awesome Perhaps Contraption, and the incomparable John Hegley – who entertained one of the biggest crowds of the weekend despite the mid-afternoon Sunday rain.
Last band of the weekend were DJ Mark Radcliffe’s Galleon Blast – a seafaring bunch of ne’er-do-wells whose blend of traditional English and Irish folk was a perfect way to finish.
Words and images by Chris Payne
The Just So Festival 2016 will run from August 19–21, 2016. Tickets are on sale now with early bird prices of £110 per adult and £45 per child for weekend tickets (£125 per adult and £50 per child after early birds have sold out). Under 3s are free.