There was a time when country festivals in the UK were few and far between - so I'm very pleased that they're becoming increasingly popular. Ever since I bought my first country album back in 2006, it always felt like such a guilty pleasure and I didn't know many people who shared my interest in the genre, so with more festivals popping up, it's great to be able to embrace the honkytonk and be around likeminded people. Here's a little look at what we got up to...
As the first ever Rockin' The Country Festival, it was small but perfectly formed. Several shops and vendors took part with all kinds of clothes and trinkets, including country boho clothing store Melbelle and Country2Western. It was so great to meet the people behind the brands, including Melanie Calland who has been making beautiful handcrafted chainstitched pieces and country-inspired attire for more than thirty years. Her pieces are beautifully stitched with stunning traditional motifs and made to measure.
The festival was definitely family friendly and had a little something for everyone. If you wanted to drop by or spend the entire day, there was plenty to enjoy. From live bands, line dancing, barrel racing, rodeo bull rides and lassoing, all were welcome - even us city folk.
For those of you who don't know what barrel racing is and you've never seen Yellowstone, barrel racing is a popular rodeo event in which a horse and rider attempt to run a cloverleaf pattern around barrels in the fastest time. It is famously populated by badass female riders, though all can become a barrel racer. It combines athletic ability of the horse with the skills of a rider in order to safely and successfully manoeuvre a horse around the pattern. It's fast paced and very impressive to see.4 Strides Equestrian - a group of UK based, mixed ability barrel racers led by Sally Heron - with one of their youngest riders being just 12 years of age! 4 Strides pride themselves on making barrel racing an accessible and affordable sport that is inclusive to all from all disciplines, regardless of prior experience, type of horse or riding style. They were kind enough to let me meet their beautiful horses.