The news came in that anybody who was involved with the roads protest at Solsbury Hill who fancied a bit of a rest would be welcome to come to the Harvest Fayre up in Wales. So needless to say when the time came we all piled into my truck and made the long drive up to Cilgerran.
On arrival at the gate without mishap on the journey, someone jumped out, had a quick word with the people on the gate and we were in.
It was a beautiful green field site not far from a lovely little village in upper mid Wales. Wales has always been a bit of a mecca for hippie type free parties and festivals. They have the space for one thing. It’s easy to find land hidden away from local residents in the wild, dramatic landscape.
Plus there were loads of enclaves of like-minded people who had land and who had found refuge there. Tally Valley or Tipi valley by its other name wasn’t too far away, and there were lots of sites in around Hereford, Leominster, Brechfa, Llandeilo and Machynylleth.
One of them subsequently became the Centre for Alternative Technology pioneering the use of wind and solar power. Later, I loved the idea that a friend from there was being flown around the country in helicopters accompanied by Government ministers at one point.
We’d heard tales of the brilliance of a Spiral event at Bala lake, which was not too far from Cilgerran , and consequently were excited to see what the weekend would hold. It felt great to get away and what a weekend it was.
There was a hippie section, a rave section well away from the hippies, and a massive open area devoted to tipis and a big pagan type harvest ceremony that would be the centerpiece of Saturday night’s entertainment.
Some friends from Bristol who had deep connections with Wales had a tent there already with a rig all flouro’ed up by Chris and Donna who still run what has become Tribe of Frog, and two of our DJ friends were there to meet us with their deep house tunes.
I lost my hair forever at that festival. Up until then, it was long, in a ponytail, forever under a cap. Someone had some of those mental golden microdots again, and though I’d passed up before due to responsibility in London, I’d seen their beatific effects in full effect. In the clear sunshine surrounded by friendship, the blue of the sky and the green of the grass it was clearly time to try them out.
We met a geezer sat on a hay bale in the middle of a field. He was shouting at any one passing. “Come here you bloody hippies! Come on over here! Get a life, get a job, get your fucking hair cut! Lose those dreadlocks. Smarten up and fly right. Get your fucking hair cut!”
That did it for me. He had a set of clippers attached to car battery with no guides so it was all or nothing. Some time very shortly later I had nothing left on my head but a Grade 0 crop. It was liberating, the biblical tale about Samson and his hair was patently rubbish.
The musical highlight was three huge buses parked in a u-shape, one across the back flanked by two parked at right angles on either side creating an enclosed dance floor with a rig that didn’t stop for the entire time we were there.
At some point we thought we’d met the Chemical Bros, as we made friends with two guys calling themselves the Dust Bros, which was the name that famous duo originally used. Our illusions didn’t last for long though and it soon became evident why they’d adopted that nickname.
The other very exciting rumour on site was that The Ramones were on site after one of the gate staff let a chap in who told them he was one of the famous punk idols we’d grown up listening to. The gate geezer even maintained he looked like one of the Ramones.
As dark fell on the Saturday night, people gathered around a huge corn statue that was straight out of the set of the Wicker Man but with outstretched hands making it look like a rave version.
Around the statue was a maze made out of sand. The sand was then soaked in paraffin. After a procession of pagan type dancing and music arrived at the statue, someone lit the sand on the outskirts of the maze.
As the flames travelled into the maze everyone followed them using the pathways between the sand dancing whooping and making music with drums and recorders until the statue was surrounded in celebration until the flames died away as the paraffin evaporated. Why they didn’t burn the statue too I couldn’t quite understand, but hey, at least it lived to see another day.
Chris Pace, the guy behind the Harvest Fayre, ran another one in 1996 that we went to on a different site at Fishguard. That didn’t go so well. It rained massively. There was a scarily big police presence on the outside. In the middle of Saturday night Zion Train played the main stage. In the middle of their set they stopped the music, announced that everyone was now playing for free, and it was now our very own free festival. A massive roar of approval went up from the crowd.