By Richard Thompstone
Music-lovers shed the shackles of lockdown to flock to the open-air Chickenstock festival at Stockbury, near the Kent Showground.
With the double-threat of Covid and forecast thunderstorms, which failed to materialise, Chickenstock had all the signs of being a turkey. But it came out of its shell to deliver a cracking four days of musical fun for people of all ages on farmland at Pett Farm to beat all eggs-pectations.
Indeed, it was an achievement in itself that the event succeeded in overcoming the considerable odds.
The festival was postponed last year because of the pandemic and restrictions on public gatherings meant arrangements for this year were changing up until the event began last Thursday evening.
Virus safety measures were in force so it’s not surprising the attendance of just under 1,500 was lower than originally hoped. But even that was up on the 400 who attended the previous event in 2019.
Inevitably, the organisers Moya and Beth Taylor took a financial hit but have promised the festival will be return for its fourth year next July.
Moya said: “Many people were nervous about coming to a live event again but they, and the musicians, found it a joy to be back at a festival. One person described it as a 'big hug of a festival'. It was friendly, with people smiling. They were enjoying being out again and listening to music.”
Covid travel restrictions forced one of the headline acts, the American band Hayseed Dixie, to pull out only weeks beforehand. Their event-closing slot on Sunday was filled by the energetic Canterbury-based Coco and the Butterfields who had the crowd on its feet and dancing.
The festival mixes a variety of sounds but it is mainly folk and country. Other headline acts were Show of Hands, 3 Daft Monkeys and James Williams and the Roots Collective.
Richard Digance, the singer and TV entertainer, made a surprise appearance partnering his friend Matt Black on Sunday afternoon.
There was a full programme of daily activities for children from story-telling and magic shows to circus skills and drumming.
Children under 18 were allowed in free, showing that Chickenstock plans to be on the Kent festival map for many more years and is already nurturing its future audiences.