The much-beleaguered Truck festival, threatened with bankruptcy last year, instead took part this weekend in a blaze of sunshine, having sold out for the first time in five years. The last eighteen months has seen the festival industry set back on its heels, with many going out of business, struggling to make a profit or even see a glimpse of a silver lining.
So what has changed? The fifteen-year-old festival was taken over by Y Not last December, with the Y Not team determined to help one of darlings of the festival world. Y Not owner Ralph Broadbent reckons Truck had tried to expand and diversify too quickly, but is now back on track.
Y Not too is holding its own, Ralph revealed, â€œWe`re going to sell out for the fourth year in a row. The weather is good for the first time this summer â€“ we`re really excited by it.â€ This seems to be echoed by their 15,000 plus fans on Facebook who have been watching the skies closely all year â€“ second only to their delight in the diverse line-up. With the headliners The Wombats, We are Scientists and The View, it`s not hard to see why.
So it`s not all about the weather. On the future of the festival industry itself, he said: â€œSmall festivals are great â€“ you can afford to go back each year with your friends. The big ones have a massive organisational structure; they`re too rigid to cope with change, and people simply don`t want to spend Â£500 on a weekend â€“ they can go to New York for that.â€
Stage manager for Y Not and Truck, Ian Evans, said the line-up for Truck featuring Tim Minchin and the Temper Trap, was a big draw. â€œIt`s important to have a varied line-up with something for everyone.â€ He also noted that the volunteers were key â€“ â€œthey`ve been incredibly helpful and really played their part in making it a success.â€
Ralph went on to say, â€œIt`s been like the Truck of old. Really friendly atmosphere â€“ Tim Minchin had to rescue Federation of the Disco Pimp when their car got stuck.â€ And Temper Trap said, â€œWe had an awesome time â€“ the weather was amazing which really helps with the vibe. The kids were really into it. It`s a cool little festival and we really enjoyed playing it.â€
Colin Campbell, president of the Didcot Rotary Club, observed, â€œIt`s been a lot busier; our stall has brought in lots of money for charity. We`re happy â€“ the new organisation is working wellâ€
Robin Bennet â€“ who first started Truck all those years ago â€“ believes festivals need to be professional, but laid back, and thinks it has all worked because, â€œWe`ve got the same origins as Y Not â€“ we both started as a party in a field.â€
And what does this mean to the festival goers? Tom, who`s gone to every Truck since it started said: â€œI love it dearly â€“ I got together with my wife here; all the most important things in my life have happened here.â€â€