I arrived on Thursday and swiftly set up camp behind Robin Hood Harley-Davidson before taking a wander around with my programme clutched firmly in hand. I was disappointed that the advertised Wild West group had pulled out, but the guys and girls of the Wild Bunch stepped in to save the day with their Western town and daily shoot outs. With an abundance of stalls and sideshows – such as the skilled chainsaw carving, cinema tent, circus skills workshop and have-a-go archery – there was little chance of getting bored.
Walking up to the campsite, I met some familiar faces and plenty of new ones, along with bikes and trikes, old and new. The quality of shed-built bikes and trikes has risen substantially, perhaps one of the few good results of the recession.
The bands began at 3pm each day and continued on until midnight and if there wasn’t at least one act that appealed to you, then you deserved to have your ears replaced with cauliflowers. I made a point of seeing the very athletic and flexible Julie Foxx and Jenny Silver of pole dance act, Hell on High Heelz (just for professional reporting purposes, you understand) and another of my favourite ladies, singer/songwriter, Esme Knight, whose solo set kicked off Thursday evening.
The Rock and Bike Fest has always prided itself on a relaxed atmosphere that’s family friendly (and many did bring the whole family). Obviously, there’s some acts you might not want impressionable eyes to see – such as the Circus of Horrors – but there was plenty to keep kids occupied, and many entered into the fancy dress competition with enthusiasm. Well, more enthusiasm than the adults anyway.
Saturday afternoon saw the traditional bike and trike show – you can find a full list of winners on the 100% Biker Facebook page – the overall victor of which was Des Hooper with his blue RevTech that was featured in 100% Biker #185. Of course, as is customary, it was worth a wander around the camping area to see those bikes whose owners hadn’t entered them in the show. And, once you’d finished looking at bikes, you were never sure quite what you might find next – for example, the curvy belly dancers of Shimmy Armageddon or the noisy and frankly more dangerous Black Pig Border Morris dancers. Both troupes were interesting in their own special way.
But the Rock and Bike Fest is best-known for its music and, this year, more than twenty-five bands played over the weekend. Bad Manners and Girlschool headlined on the main stage, along with former members of Whitesnake, Wishbone Ash, Magnum and Thunder coming together as Snakecharmer, while former Wasp guitarist, Chris Holmes, flew in for a special appearance. The original Rainbow Rising closed the weekend with ‘Long Live Rock and Roll’, which got the crowd singing along (‘singing’ being a fairly loose description here). One stage was run by Wolfman and It, and the other by Mark Terry and his crew. The Unwanted MCC kept the Rockaoke tent buzzing and, if you didn’t enjoy the weekend, you were probably comatose or not there. Make sure you’re neither next year!