Clarence Festival still rocking the park after 21 years

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FOR the past two decades Clarence Park Festival has risen from virtually nothing to becoming the longest running free music event in Yorkshire.

Marking it’s 21st birthday, this weekend’s event hopes to be the most memorable yet as it showcases 18 bands.

With an ethos to provide free music to the city, Wakefield Music Collective - the team behind the festival – puts on a show that attracts music lovers from across the country.

Kate Honeyman, chairwoman of the group, said: “What it means to the people of Wakefield is that it’s a celebratory event that they can access for free.

“People originally thought it was just for music lovers but all ages come now as well as a lot of families who bring picnics.”

During the years the event has done just that, growing from a simple rock concert into a city tradition.

Mrs Honeyman said: “It’s just a Wakefield tradition now and I think its still as popular as ever.”

Recent years have seen the show re-jigged, and in 2009 Clarence Festival was cancelled for the first time in its history.

Mrs Honeyman said:“We had a year off which was disappointing. And 2008 was a brilliant year, it was red hot. We had about 4,500 people, it was amazing – but it got a bit too much. It was difficult to get the money in and to keep volunteers.”

The story began in 1991, with the first ever Clarence Festival rocking off on August 10, showcasing 14 acts to an audience of 3,000 people.

With the Wakefield Music Collective itself established that same year, an aim to promote live, local music and help, advice and information to bands on both a local and national level, was born.

Now reaching its 21st birthday, the festival - which is mostly funded through sponsorship - has developed national recognition, which this year comes in the form of a unique home brew developed by Ossett Brewery especially for the occasion.

Clarence Park Festival runs from noon – 8pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Car parking access this year is via Park Avenue, off Denby Dale Road.

l Saturday’s line up

Noon Red Riding Quartet (B)

12.45pm Blind Dead McJones (T)

1.30pm Jar Family (B)

2.10pm Scott Wainwright (T)

2.55pm Hamerex (B)

3.50pm By Polaroid (T)

4.45pm Brompton Mix (B)

5.40pm More Than You’ll Ever Know (T)

6.35pm Freedom of the City (B)

Sunday’s line up

Noon Incredible Magpie Band (B)

12.45pm Jerry at Controls (T)

1.30pm MBT (B)

2.10pm Peggin’ Leaves (T)

2.55pm Mummy Short Arms (B)

3.50pm Boomin’ (T)

4.45pm Soul Circle Gang (B)

5.40pm Benjamin Bloom (T)

6.35pm Benson (B)

(B = bandstand, T = beer tent).