Wickham Festival fans were blown away – but by the music rather than the forecast gales.
Winds of 40mph had been predicted along with thunderstorms and torrential rain and although there were a few heavy showers, the worst of the storm passed us by.
That enabled everyone to enjoy a superb programme, the biggest problem being the need to chose between the quality acts on two stages.
Despite the disappointment of the Proclaimers pulling out on Thursday due to sickness, the show went on in style with fans able to shelter and enjoy the music under canvas.
Eric Bibb moved across to Main Stage 1 to sing the blues and delighted the audience with an astonishing display of intricate guitar playing alongside his powerful lyrics, many championing civil rights.
The vacant slot was filled at short notice by the ever-popular Dhol Foundation whose DJ set drew a huge crowd for their usual vibrant, colourful, energetic and deafening set.
It crowned a great array of entertainment in the second Big Top. The tone was set right from the start with the brilliant Marching Skaletons who went down a storm.
Long-time Wickham favourite Swill Odgers kept the tempo high with a tight set of songs drawn from his extensive back catalogue, both solo and from the Men They Couldn’t Hang.
Edward II and the Trouble Notes both proved extremely popular with the crowd before the Deborah Bonham Band raised the tempo another notch to set up the frenzied finale from Johnny Kalsi and his Dhol Foundation.
It was a tough call to choose between the stages with the other Big Top hosting the legendary Barbara Dickson who showed her voice is as strong as ever as she delighted the crowd with a wonderful set of songs.
After strong sets by Lady Maisery and the dulcet tones of Kathryn Tickell, it was time for the Fisherman’s Friends to do their thing – and brilliantly.
They gave the crowd what they wanted with a selection of well-known shanties and songs interspersed with humour for a real fun set which proved one of the highlights of the weekend.
Organiser Peter Chegwyn said: “Although there were a few gusts of wind and a couple of showers, it was nothing we couldn’t handle. We were lucky to dodge the worst of the storm which was nowhere near as bad as had been forecast.
“I know a lot of events across the region were cancelled and I feel for their organisers. We soldiered on as we always do and were rewarded with a great day of music.
“The ground was wet and muddy in places but once fans were in the arena, all our stages were covered so they were able to keep dry and enjoy the fantastic programme.
“Although we were disappointed to lose the Proclaimers on Thursday, we had so many other good acts that by Saturday everyone was just loving the wide range of top quality bands including the Dhol Foundation who stepped in at short notice and proved hugely popular as they always do.”