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> > > Review: Fairport’s Cropredy Festival 2012

Fairport Convention's Cropredy 2012 took place near Banbury in Oxfordshire from 9 - 11 August. Richard Downes tells a woeful tale about access provision at the festival.

photo of a stage at the cropredy festival, with a large screen showing a seated performer playing guitar

A view of the stage at Fairport's Cropredy Convention music festival in August 2009. Image source Wikipedia licensed under CC BY 3.0

Jay and Gee had not been to a festival for years - not since Jay's condition kicked in. They missed them. They liked music, craft, style, energy and having been past regulars knew quite well why Cropredy was called the friendly festival.

They were committed to making it this time. They'd had a lot to organise and pay for. They'd have to cross water both ways and could they get cover for Jay's mum whilst away. Maybe they wouldn't do all three days. They bought a ticket for the last two.

Their luck was in. They had been able to swing the third day. So they crossed the water. Gee forgot the tickets. He took the ferry back whilst Jay sweated in the car. On the hottest weekend of the year too.

Reaching Cropredy, Gee asked the man on the disabled people's field gate for an extra days ticket with camping only to find he would have to pay for a three day pass and seek to sell his two day pass on site. Gee was prepared to risk this. He hadn't come all this way for nothing.

Next day Jay found the Fair Mobility Scooter hire tent and agreed to pay £20 per day. She was bothered Gee had spent extra money already, wasn't fully confident their original tickets would be sold but this scooter would be a boon to her as their camping was on a steep hill as is the festival field.

Coincidentally Jay and Gee had arranged to meet Art and Terry Bytwynkle; practising advocates. They told them their story and, once advocates always advocates, Art and Terri went straight to the festival organisers, who in all fairness, kept their word and sorted this out in the time they said they would. Top marks here Cropredy.

However, customary to practice, the Advocates wanted to know how else they  could help and agreed to assess facilities. They went to the Crip field and were shown one paltry toilet and one paltry shower block. Whilst they looked on an older man came by. He picked up a tambourine and shook it. A young girl ran up to him and asked how she could help. Had he entered a music competition or a Learn Tambourine in Two Shakes Workshop? No. He had to ask someone a good forty years younger for a key to go to the loo. It was at this point the advocates thought they read a sign saying what time the keys would be available. Surely they were seeing things. Maybe not.

Aghast they returned to the festival site. There was one disabled people's toilet there. All the other people's had loads of toilets and they were pretty bad so they dared not appraise the cleanliness of this sole facility. But it was from there Terri spotted the viewing platform and pointed it out to Jay. No one had told Jay about this and remember, given the health condition, how it impacted on her work, and her unwillingness to surrender to impairment; Jay had no reason to know about viewing stages. Surely some one at the friendly festival could have spoken to them. In some ways this is the Cropredy crux: who is there to chat to.

As for Art and Terri - they'd had a good festival season. Two crackers on the best two weekends of the year. They had noticed a lot of peers attending. They were heartened to see crips using other fields too, hanging out with mates, being one with the occasion. Things are picking up but some things still bring you down including going back home and checking the Cropredy Website only to be dismayed by the language used. Art and Terri will contact Attitude Is Everything and become mystery shoppers.

Cropredy remains a favoured festival even by Jay and Gee but it seems it has a way to go before it becomes crip ready.