Hifields team set the bar for festivals in the Covid-19 age of social distancing
- Credit: Archant
As a music-lover who would - pre-pandemic - attend festivals in this country and around the world most weekends of the year, I was excited (and, admittedly, a little apprehensive) about the prospect of my first event in six months.
But as soon as my friends and I arrived at the site of Hifields mini-festival in Cranwich close to Thetford, we felt immediately at ease and that Covid-19 safety measures had been implemented properly.
The local festival team, a group of friends who hosted their first event 12 years ago for 500 people in Dullingham, have since become well-known across Cambridgeshire and East Anglia. They are now used to welcoming several thousand people to Chippenham Park near Ely each year.
However, due to Covid-19 restrictions this year, they set the capacity of their mini-fest to 250 people - in line with government guidelines surrounding outdoor events - and promoted the event as ‘a magical day of music, entertainment, food and drink’.
Unlike the many illegal raves that have been taking place across the country (including one just weekends ago at Thetford Forest that required hundreds of police officers to put a stop to it) it was good to see everything being done legitimately and with license.
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As well as a trained security team, white squares marked out in the grass were clearly visible and assigned to groups upon entry to encourage people to stay within their own friendship bubble.
Packages for groups of two, four and six were available in advance and interactions with people outside of a group had to follow social distancing guidelines. Additionally, guests were encouraged to bring their own seating if they required it.
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There were also plenty of hand sanitiser machines fitted across the site (including at the entrance to the bar queue and portable toilets) as well as a trained security team who were there too ensure that groups remained socially distant.
Founder Thomas Janes said: “It’s been a real family affair, and a case of everybody really mucking in to pull it all together.
“My mum was even working the bar, ensuring social distancing was in place in the queue and when people were ordering their drinks.
“Safety has been a real priority, especially in light of the pandemic. We used the same security team as we do each year at our bigger festival in Chippenham Park, because we know we can trust them and they know how to spot a troublemaker.”
He said the day was a huge success - mainly because “everyone was just happy to be able to get out and about again.
“It was just nice to be able to sit in the sun and enjoy some music.”
People are always going to want to party - that’s a desire that will never go away - so it was also good to hear from Tom that King’s Lynn Council were fully onboard with the event .
In terms of the production, Hifields mini-fest immediately had a proper festival atmosphere: as well as an undercover seating area with plenty of tables and a fully licensed bar selling reasonably priced drinks, the combination of a colourful stage for DJs to perform on and olourful flags and sequined umbrellas across the field helped to brighten up the site.
Having likely had their schedules wiped out as a result of the pandemic, the DJs who played a mixture of house, garage, techno, disco and funk throughout the day - John Jules, YAYA, Joe Bunce, Khyle Black, Wesz - looked like they were enjoying themselves just as much as those in the crowd:
The team also felt it important to involve local business: a team from Drake’s Bespoke Dining provided the tasty on-site food while Desire Vintage had their own clothes stall - both proved very popular with attendees.
Desire Vintage said it was their first festival of the year, although they had 30 planned and that “every time we’ve done Hifields, the team smash it - in terms of production and logistics.”
They added: “To have it at such a weird time and sell out is incredible.”
For information about the next Hifields festival, which is planned for summer 2021, visit their Facebook page or email email@example.com