During his busy schedule Steve Blount, co-organiser, Bearded Theory Festival managed to find time to give an interview with his favourite online mens lothing store (that's Sturban Clothing in case you didn't guess). Before we get into the interview I just wanna remind you we are giving away a pair of weekend camping tickets to the Bearded Theory Festival (including parking), worth £168.
You started in 08 with about 400 people at The Knockerdown pub and last year you had a sell out festival of 5000 at Kedleston Hall. What happened?
It started because we wondered if we could run a festival and decided to put our ideas and dreams to the test. Once we started the whole thing snowballed and we are where we are today.
And what were the key points that took you from 400 to 5000 at the amazing location Kedleston Hall Derbyshire?
We apply common sense to everything and address the things that people don’t like about festivals. Customer service is the key and listening to our customers.
Kedleston Hall is the 3rd site in Derbyshire for the festival. After starting in 2008 at The Knockerdown Pub near Carsington Water, it moved to Bradley Nook Farm in Ashbourne during 2009 and 2010, and then to the fabulous National Trust grounds of Kedleston Hall after we we outgrew that site. The simple reason we chose Derbyshire is we all live in here and its beautiful.
I remember you starting, you actually called me and I remember one of the comments was I doubt you will have ever heard of any of the bands, that has also changed?
More famous bands come as you grow naturally and we have some very famous bands on now.
2012 you had a sell out festival why are you selling out in a recession when other festivals are struggling?
I think it’s because we have an identity and are quite different from the mainstream.
You have to be good with money and stick to the budget once its set. Too many go to the wall because they try to grow too quick and borrow money. Early on we got some good advice off a proven expert on how to avoid these pitfalls, and it stuck.
You have had problems and I think what differentiates organisations is how they deal with problems, I am of course referring to the freak wind that blew off a roof a few years back but you guys seemed to take it all in your stride and nobody was injured, were you just lucky, was it planned or did you just cope well?
The excellent staff we had on site took over when the tornado hit and proved themselves in very difficult conditions. You have to always plan for such events but don’t think you will ever need it in honesty.
The immediate aftermath was awful - a whole year's worth of planning was quite literally swept away in less than a minute! We did have one staff member taken to hospital but he recovered fully from his injury. In the end all the agencies involved in investigating what happened were happy we had done everything correctly both in advance and after the Tornado, and that it truly was a unique, freak accident. In the long run though, I suppose the experience turned out to be good for us. To mark the event we still have a stage called Tornado Town.
You have always associated the festival with a charity is this always the same and who is it for 2013 and why?
Every year to date the festival has support at least one Charity. We often try and pick something that puts something back into the local area, and supported a Derby Youth initiative called The Drop Inn for a number of years. This year we will be donating to the Sheffield hospital neurosurgery unit.
What are the main differences that festival visitor will notice this year?
Well we always keep a few surprises back for the weekend itself, but in general people can expect bigger and better bands, new stages, loads of site art. Improvement to site access, live in and family camping areas.
Have you started planning 2014 yet and how do you see the festival developing?
We have talked about some of the bands we would like to have for 2014, but one we have this year took us 5 years to persuade to perform, so we take things one step at a time. We don’t want to grow it much more that its current size, but will want to continue to make the whole Bearded Theory experience the best there is out there.