Hidden away in the picturesque town of Standon is one of the UK’s coolest festivals. Standon Calling is a festival like no other, with a founder that manages to get the best artists booked, predict the next artist to break, create themed fancy dress, (this year it was gods and monsters) and create an amazing eco festival attitude; to describe it as just another festival would do it harm.
Standon Calling is about art, discovery and fun with a reputation for being able to cultivate the perfect friendly and party atmosphere. Since its founding in 2001, Standon has grown at a steady pace. Many of its attractions really promote a temporary community feel including a refreshing swimming pool, various stages, a cinema, a literary tent for all you book worms and the best food to boot. Standon is fast becoming the festival to attend when you want to participate in good ol’ merrymaking
Over the past year Standon has hit a few bumps in the road but this summer it was back with reprise. This year we got right in the thick of it and found out more about its green credentials and suppliers.
Plodding along the downward slope to the festival, you can already see the mass of tents, with us our American friend, whose first words of the day were, ‘This is just like Woodstock’ which is very complementary considering its one of the most well known festivals on the planet, started in much the same way. I have to tell you though, as festivals go, Standon is five star luxury; showers and normal luxury porta-loos as standard already have my attention.
Many festivals have an eco way of doing things but with Standon this is part of the weekend; even on the final day of the shenanigans the fields looks spotless, no rubbish anywhere. Everything is recyclable and the festival goers really get into the spirit of it. With their clean up team constantly operating and the strategically placed recycling points, they really are committed to ‘keeping it clean’. Even the stall holders have a green ethos with Phoenix Futures planting one tree for every young person that they successfully help off alcoholism. It’s very commendable.
Unsurprisingly The Gadget Show is in on the Standon action with Polly and Otis going head to head to produce the best snack, the one with the most interest wins. I have to say Polly’s Apple Pie was divine. There’s not many festivals that offer you fresh homemade Apple Pie. The Gadget Show fresh food stall wasn’t the exception to the festival it’s the rule. We came across Moos Boosh, a gourmet burger stall founded by James Sawyer and Richard Scorer, whose focus is simple; tasty, beautiful food. Burgers made on premises using the best of organic Aberdeen Angus beef from South Downs with nothing added other than some flavoursome spices just before its cooked on the grill. Using all home grown herbs and spices, their homemade onion jams, tomato relishes, sweet chilli add a further deliciousness. James’ says “Moos Boosh has encouraged him to open a holiday let in Devon, hand rearing sheep.” If you see Moos Boosh at anywhere I highly recommended you sample their delights.
Catching up with Festival Director, Graham McAvoy, (and his adorable twin boys) we find out what the festival has in store for us in the future and the issues they still face in order to keep the festival as green as possible.
So Graham what’s your story?
I’ve been involved in Standon Calling for 4 years. When I started in the first year it was a really small festival just run by a small group of really nice people, over the last four years it has grown and developed into something that’s brilliant, with a really nice vibe and a really great small festival atmosphere. Everyone, all the staff, myself have just grown with the show.
Where do you see it going from here, what’s your ambitions?
Obviously Alex (the founder) is going to have a lot of input into that as at the end of the day it’s his decision. I think just solidifying our position in the market is the key thing to do. I think the festival works great at this size – we are working to make it the destination of small festivals and the one that’s not to be missed!
How do you select your acts, you seem to be able to predict the future, you have acts performing on your stages then a year later they are collecting Brit Awards and performing at huge shows, like Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons it’s really quite a talent.
Well Alex has a great eye for booking bands, and he always seems to pick the ones that are about to break, so it will be interesting to see who from this year will take off. I think Hercules and Love Affair will be pretty big. I didn’t even see Mumford and Sons the year they played – they were on stage three, half way down the bill the year before they went huge. Not even a year – 3 months – they went massive and you’re just like wow!
That is amazing! I should start betting. You’re quite a green festival with your MC encouraging the audience to keep it clean and green and you have very professional recycling facilities. Is this something you also try and encourage with your staff or with the artists too?
Yeah, absolutely, it’s something everyone should try and do, bit this year we have tried to be as green as we can and we’ve got our entire fuels are bio diesel; 100% biodiesel. We recycle all the waste and we do the standard things but we really try and make sure that it is done properly, and recycled well, the site is kept really clean and the impact, the environmental impact to these fields is important. The river that goes round this field has Cray fish in. It’s a really beautiful area and beautiful environment and it’s important that it doesn’t get affected by us.
Any future ides to be even greener? Actually compared to some of the festivals we’ve been part of I would say it has to be one of the cleanest.
Well we have litter pickers and a waste team which have done an outstanding job this year. I’m not sure what more we can do I think when you look at our carbon footprints of festivals your biggest things is travel by ticket holders. So if you wanted to make a serious dent in your carbon footprint other than not using normal diesel on site. We work with two lift share companies, we had festival coaches on as we had last year, but the pick up on that hasn’t been that good this year so they ended up not happening, which is a shame but possibly it’s because the car share works better. I think promoting the transport options are key or communal transport options is definitely they way to go.
So what’s your biggest green tip for all festival goers this year?
I guess it would be when you leave take what you can with them. Take your tent – it takes us ages to take them down and also it just goes to land fill. Sometimes we can recycle them but we shouldn’t have this consumer market that just buys something for £10 for a show and then just leaves it to sit in the field. It’s not a good way for the country to be going. Things are too cheap. So my biggest thing is please just take your waste and take your tent with you and respect the countryside.
Tell us what’s next for Standon Calling
Wow, thinking about it the success of this year, you’re on the last day here, and spirits are always high and there’s always talk so that’s good. We are already beginning to think about moving different stages and try different things. As far as bands and themes go, getting the theme sorted out nice and early is important as that sort of leads our art work. Hopefully get our early bird tickets on sale before December and hopefully they’ll have a nice pickup, it’s just about spreading the word.