In a short time, Flo the coffee van has become a very familiar sight at the island’s events and music and arts festivals.
The stylish Citroen van, complete with the ever-smiling faces of her owners, Stuart and Annabel Gentry, have brought an atmosphere of calm and relaxation to many events, whilst also providing stage and entertainment facilities to accommodate bands and musicians.
And, now, they have decided that they will hold their own ’fluffy’ festival, the Great Manx Shindig.
Annabel and Stuart have put together a three day event of local music, arts, crafts, food and drink, to be held at the end of the summer, at an as-yet undisclosed location, the details of which they are mischievously keeping close to their chests.
’We are going to announce the location a week before the festival,’ said Annabel, who describes the venue as a ’top secret, fluffy location’. ’We want to keep it a secret, as we don’t want people to see what we are building before we open.
’Stu has some ideas in store, and we want to keep it as much of a surprise as possible for when people turn up.’
Among the bands featured in the line up are Friday night headliners, the Ballaghs and Saturday night lead act, Dusty Plankton, plus the Fecktones, Jeff Jepson, Matt Kelly, Clash Vooar and Biskee Brisht amongst many others.
But, at heart, the emphasis is placed firmly on creating a space where families can enjoy a festival experience and, in Annabel’s words, ’it’s a chance to kick off their shoes, feel the grass between their toes and take time out from modern life’.
There will be educational workshops dedicated to the island’s biosphere and craft groups with visiting Yorkshire community artists The Handmade Parade and the Rightside African music company.
’The original drive behind the Shindig was that we wanted to give back to the Manx bands that have supported us,’ said Annabel.
’We wanted to do a festival that will support the whole of the Manx bands for the future, hence our 40 percent pledge.
’Many of the bands play for free at many of the events we help organise, and we want to make sure that 40 percent of the money goes to the bands.
’But we also wanted to have something a bit more family orientated, with workshops and craft areas, a bit more in the ’Green Gathering’ style of event,’ she said.
’It is not just a band festival, but rather we want it to be a weekend of things to come along and get involved in.
’The Handmade Parade is a terrific group who make these huge puppets and structures.
’Unfortunately they are a bit too big to bring them over, but they are community artists, and will involve the children there and create something brilliant throughout the weekend.
Both Annabel and Stuart have a wealth of experience in working with festivals around the UK over the past twenty years, with Annabel a formative member of the famous Tiny Tea tent, which is a familiar sight at everything from Glastonbury to the Green Gathering, WOMAD and the Edinburgh fringe festival, and Stuart’s background as a soundman, DJ and festival security manager.
’The Shindig won’t be as big as a UK festival, but we will be taking bits of what we have seen, and we’ll be drawing on some of our own festival experience and make it into a smaller and unique version.’
Tickets for the Great Manx Shindig, which takes place from Friday, August 31 to Sunday, September 2, are £40 for an adult ticket and £15 for under 16s.
More information is available from thegreatmanxshindig.com
by Mike Wade
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