Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Sunflower Fest : Festival time down on the farm

Fun on the Farm: Performers at the launch of Sunflower Fest 2010

Set in beautiful countryside a few miles outside Lisburn, Tubby’s Farm is known locally for producing barley, sunflowers and tasty home-made jam. But this weekend the peace of the rural setting will be shattered when around 3,000 people descend on the 27-acre arable site for Northern Ireland’s latest outdoor festival.

Sunflower Fest 2010 promises to be a family-orientated three-day event of live music, local food and art.

Organised by farmer Michael Magowan, the festival is aimed at showcasing the best of Northern Irish music and food produce, with all funds going to Haiti to help rebuild the country post-earthquake.

Among the bands lined up to play over the weekend are Mojo Fury, Pay*ola, Joe Echo, Sweet Savage, Indigo Fury and Swanee River.

It’s not the first time, of course, that a working farm has been turned into a festival site.

A 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, became the venue for perhaps the world’s best-known outdoor rock festival, Woodstock, in 1969 while in the 1970s, Michael Eavis threw open Worthy Farm in South West England to host the now-legendary Glastonbury Festival.

Michael explained why he was following suit: “My son Alexander is in a band and last year we did a gig at the back of Cafe A Go Go in Hillsborough to raise funds for a school trip to Chile.

“I’ve always loved music and festivals and we ended up with 15 bands playing that day, with the help of Philip McCarroll from SO:NI.

“The bands were so receptive and had such a great time that I thought it would be a great idea to do something like this again.

“I tried to get Hillsborough Castle or the courthouse but had no luck, so that’s when I |decided to host a festival at the farm.

“It’s the most beautiful setting and is ideal for the event. The local council has told us no more than 3,000 people, but if we get that, we’ll be delighted.”

The Sunflower Fest will take place across several fields, with sites set aside for weekend camping, single day camping, stages and stalls.

Michael said: “As well as live music, there’ll be plenty of great food from The Bay Tree restaurant, Cafe A Go Go, Oodles of Noodles and Soupernatural, with vegetarian options available too. Drink is on sale from the Bar Burgundy Beverage Bothy, while campers can bring their own beer to their tents, but not the arena.

“As it’s a family event there’ll be entertainment for the children too, story-telling, rock ‘n roll football, art workshops, percussion workshops. Everyone will be catered for.”

Michael said the theme of the weekend was “love and tolerance” — not unlike that of its working farm predecessors.

“It’s not Woodstock, it’s not Glastonbury, it’s Sunflower Fest, but people will naturally draw comparisons,” he said.

Sunflower Fest runs from August 20-22. Tickets cost £28 weekend, £10 single Friday, £14 Saturday, £8 Sunday, available from Deane’s Deli, The Rusty Zip and Belfast Welcome Centre.

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