Party in the park – Silfest 2012
9 August 2012
With face painting, jousting and dancing to DJ sets til 3am – this year’s uncommonly sunny Silfest, held on the 21 July and attracting over 300 revelers – had something for everyone. Reporter spoke to two of the organisers Hercules Araclides and Emilie Hall (both Life Sciences), to find out more.
Why did you get involved with organising Silfest?
Hercules: Everyone I spoke to told me pretty much the same thing about Silwood: either get involved or go insane! So I got involved with the hall reps, entertainments team, set up the music society, and so naturally I added Silfest to the list. Planning began a few months ahead of it, with the Silfest committee taking on different tasks.
What were the challenges of planning such a big event?
Emilie: I think any of the nine people central to organising this event would tell you it was more work than we were anticipating. We had to make a huge effort to try to involve as many people from outside the campus as possible, be that as guests, acts, suppliers or helping with publicity. With such lousy weather mid-summer, there were concerns when ticket sales had a slow start. Nevertheless, we broke even on the tickets and managed to raise £350 for our charity – the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust – a voluntary organisation in the region concerned with all aspects of nature conservation.
What was different about this year’s Silfest?
Emilie: This year we had external caterers, Hardcore Prawn, Shambhu’s and Custom Creams, come in as opposed to the usual refectory BBQ. We have a number of BBQs large and small throughout the year, so I thought it was a prime opportunity to do something a little different. Besides, who can resist a cheeky brand name and custom ice cream made with liquid nitrogen! As for Shambhu’s, this is an ecology and conservation campus so unsurprisingly, we have a large number of vegetarian residents and it was important for me to make sure they had just as much choice as everyone else so we hired a vegan caterer!
What bands played this year?
Hercules: I’m in the band of students from Silwood who opened the event when it started at midday. We are called ‘Amphibians In The Kitchen’ and are pretty much an ensemble, with various combinations of six singers, two guitarists, two bassists, two percussionists, two ukelelists, a pianist and keyboardist, a drummer, a cellist, flautist, and a kazoo and cowbellist!
There were 10 bands playing throughout the day until 23.30, then things moved over to the Manor House for three DJ sets, until about 3.00. The other bands had either previously played Silfest, or were friends of students, and a couple were semi-local bands who added a nice bit of variety. The bands ranged from acoustic folk, indie, punk, old-school rock, blues, gaelic folk rock, psychedelic covers, indie-disco, and all points in between!
What were the highlights of Silfest for you?
Hercules: Probably seeing a real, living, breathing music festival fall into place in less than 24 hours, starting 16.30pm the previous day, when before then, it had only existed as receipts, emails, phonecalls, and countless reams of A4 paper. Plus, I got a huge kick out of doing what I enjoy by playing some of my favourite songs in front of a big crowd – and the fact that people were getting up and dancing for it was electrifying!
What was the atmosphere like?
Emilie: The atmosphere was fantastic and I was so touched by how many people came along to help the days before and after!
Hercules: Festivals can end up being quite messy, but everybody was in very good spirits, well-behaved, enthusiastic, and people enjoyed every single band. All this was amplified by the incredible clear-blue-sky weather!
Get a taste of the party atmosphere in the slideshow below
— Emily Ross-Joannou, Communications and Development