Free festival was great last year...if you help us, 2012 will be even better

Essex County Standard: Ben Howard, Andy Winmill and Marc De’ath at Colchester Castle Ben Howard, Andy Winmill and Marc De’ath at Colchester Castle

COLCHESTER Free Festival is back for the third year running – and organisers want to hear your ideas for ways to make it even bigger and better.

The celebration of music and arts in Colchester is being held in Castle Park on Saturday, August 25.

For the First time, it will boast a comedy tent and dedicated acoustic music stage, alongside the three established stages, DJ Bandstand, art areas, children’s festival and trade stalls.

Festival founder Ben Howard, of Keep Colchester Cool, said: “The formula for the festival works well, but we’re looking to freshen things up this year.

“We’ve got stages for the biggest acts of the year, the up-and-coming acts and the acts which have shaped the local music scene over the years, and we now have an area for pure acoustic acts, all focusing on the music scene in Colchester.”

Mr Howard said he and fellow organisers welcomed the pressure of putting on a successful event for the third year running.

He added: “Looking back, Colchester Free Festival in 2010 was all about just making it happen.

“The festival last year was really like ‘that difficult second album’. We knew what we were doing, but we weren’t sure if the previous year was a one-off, a fluke.

“Luckily, last year’s festival turned out to be something very special and the whole day was a step up from the year before.”

For the second year running, the Gazette will be a media partner for the event, while Lion Walk Shopping Centre has again signed up as a commercial supporter for 2012.

The organising team also wants the community to suggest ideas for the festival and is appealing for volunteers to help run the event on the day.

The first of a series of meetings to get the public involved is being held tomorrow at the Firstsite art gallery, off the High Street, at 7.30pm.

Co-organiser Andy Winmill said: “We need help in every area, whether it’s on the admin side of things, or being our man in a van for the festival.

“We all volunteer our time for free to make this happen, so we are calling for residents to come on board and join the festival team.”

Organisers are also calling for ideas to make the festival, which last year cost £22,000 to put on, more sustainable.

Another one of the organisers, Marc De’ath, said: “We need donations, fundraising events, trade stalls, supporters and partners to contribute this year and beyond.”

To get involved, or find out more, visit colchesterfreefestival.co.uk

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