The Archive

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Updated Jan 2016

This site is dedicated to the memory of Roger Hutchinson, who inspired me to delve deep into the magic of the free festival and who passed away Sept 3rd 2010.

R.I.P. Roger .....

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Festival of Fools, Ponsandane Park, Penzance.

 

August 27-31st 1980.


    Very little is known about this one, a seeming one off festival ( paying ? ) which featured The Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe and Greatest Show On Legs . Can anyone help ?


Digger Dave remembers this

     The other was the Festival of Fools in Penzance. Malcolm Hardee brought his Greatest Show on Legs down for that one and enticed me to join them and move to London. I had got the performing bug ---all the blame being on Polgooth fayre.
Later on , Bob one of the main organisers,and probably some others went onto the Elephant fayres, invited my later group Cafe De Gaza to perform there.

Even later , whilst touring in the north I came across Henry , working as a Circus Ringmaster.

    The whole entity of Polgooth had quite a bonding effect on life in Cornwall at that time and it sowed a lot of seeds for much that came after.
Digger Dave:Feb 08.


Hi! I was one of the performers at the Festival. I remember everyone arrived either after dark Friday night or earlyish Saturday. We got there just after sunrise Friday morning after driving all night and taking the cross-channel ferry. (We lived in Amsterdam on a houseboat at the time). We had originally planned on sleeping in the van– a huge old Citroen box – as the festival was being held in a flat open paddock with plenty of room for all the vans, busses, tents, etc expected to arrive. By European standards it was a fairly ok summer, but we Aussies were the only ones who appeared to be freezing, so we changed our minds at the last minute and booked ourselves into the only nearby B & B we could find.

Copped a fair bit of ribbing from the rest of the performers who all pitched their tents on the festival site. But by the Saturday afternoon, it was pelting with rain. The wind picked up and he rain went on for hours! We were the only ones to be warm, dry and well rested when we went on stage. All the others were drenched, trying their best to sleep in sagging soggy tents or their vans.

When the rain finally eased off there was a fire-eating show scheduled. One of the guys, a fire eater from Django Edwards troupe, couldn’t find any outlets stocking his usual fuel for the fire-eating act, so he made do with petrol from the local service station. He had only just started his show, which was outdoors and was being watched by most of the locals, including lots of children, when the petrol just went whoosh! and the poor guy’s whole head was just on fire. His hair and beard were gone in an instant. It was terrible, and he was screaming. A lot of people were totally freaking out. He got rushed off in an ambulance to the hospital. I don’t know what happened to him after that; don’t think we ever saw him again. I think all of us were pretty subdued after that. No-one really felt like performing. But heaps of people had traveled from all over the place to be at the festival, so we had to go on.

It was a really weird time – the scenery was beautiful, the locals great, the sense of friendship between all the performers was wonderful. But the weather was appalling, and the fire-eating accident was horrible. Basically from the performing side of the festival, the whole thing was a bit lack-lustre: everyone was very stoned, quite a lot of tripping going on, everyone was soaking wet for the whole time, shivering, not sleeping, and in a mild state of shock. So there you have it. A true first hand account of the Festival.


Peaches Angelico.


Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe.

From the Tibetan Book of the Road

Festival of Fools. Penzance .

5 PM.

    After getting away from the very large roundabout and putting all energies into getting to Penzance in time to get the marquee up,we get to Penzance and the fools won't let us in ! They don't want the marquee either saying things like "There is no room, we are full up and you weren't invited anyway , so what do you expect. " and ' how can you come in when we didn't know you were coming , how can you have your pudding if you don't eat your meat ? "

     So although Perry bus, Mac bus and Golly bus were already in and J managed to slip in, we had to put the bus down by the harbour in a coach park. Anyway the troupe is nearly back together but the friction on the outside is causing tension and headaches on the inside -but we're staying cool and not panicking like the other fools and so we can pull it off- we've been in worse shit than this , we've been fighting the police all summer and carrying generators on and off buses , we've had it all man , we don't want to fight you, we've been fighting the police all summer and carrying generators on and off buses.........

Friday 29th Aug. 2 PM. .

    Last night small talks abounded in Perry bus about foolish Festival people and how its not on that they are turning buses and trucks away at the gate, some of whom have come all the way across the country to get here . Its crazy but they just haven't catered for whats happening . So this morning, a few words in the organisers ears about what a cock up this is turning into and they confessed to being 'totally incapable and not really having a clue where they're at. Like they don't even get their dome up, but we've let them use the marquee that just appeared next to the busses last night !. Anyway we gave a few helpful suggestions on how to build a festival in 600 easy lessons and hopefully we can work something out .

Saturday Aug. 30th 7. PM.

    More Tibetans are claiming that the marquee is the best its ever been - with bar , tables, chairs , straw bails and stage with PA and big pink tent . Albion parachute covering half the inside of the tent. Its a good space with day time friendly scenes and midnight madness and zanity.

Tibetans Raising the Glove somewhere or other in the early 80s

© Igor Malaprop

    Today is very laid back with burnt out Tibetans slumped out over tables and on the floor recovering from last night because last night it was all happening . All but one of the Festival Foolish organisers went totally insane and were seeing busses before their eyes and when four busses appeared at the gate their circuits overloaded and heads exploded. In the heat of the chaos appeared shortly , longly and extremely longly departed crew mates. Greame, Spike , buddy and Mike. Then did follow many hours of insanity in the marquee with lots of trippers and space cadets , some of whom likened the scene to the Hammer house of Horrors or even

----" Magic Theatre " ----.

Not for Everyone , ----mad men only .

    Suddenly as if by magic the clowns appeared and amazed all with a show performed in the audience, while drunkard fools drunkardly fooled on the stage - once again amid loons and lunacy the Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupe stole the show ! - and its not every day you steal your own show !

    After last night all we could do today was christen the marquee the' Cop Out Cafe' although ideas were stirred up about ramming the main gate with four busses and Molotov cocktails when a local piggie visited Mike and Buddy's busses , parked next door and said ' you can't stay here, you'll have to go ". But it seems to have calmed down now and the busses are still sitting outside the great Penzanian show factory- its nice here innit ?


Free Festivals List

Any info to add- well don't just sit there ! Contact us

Free festivals and small fayres held in the United Kingdom between 1967-90.

1967-69.

 1970-79  
1980-92

 

  • Windsor Peoples Free Festival 1972-74
 
 Free festival related articles
Pay Festivals- Benefits for Travellers aid.
 

Main list of Free festivals 1970-1985

Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

Related Articles

The aroma of a free festival -by Roger Hutchinson

Dome construction instruction sheet (download-140k)-by Roger Hutchinson

Travellers Tales Convoy Steve's tale of how the freaks outsmarted the fuzz at Greenham common.

Zorch -House band for the free festival set ? A fanzine page on the UK's first electronic band .

Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe-surreal pranksters of the Traveller community .

Acidia Lightshow Lightshow for Windsor festival and Stonehenge in the 1970s.

Traveller Daves Website - Chock full of of free festival photos !

Many, many thanks go to Roger Hutchinson , Big Steve , Roger Duncan, Celia, Will , Chazz, Jeza ,Chris Hewitt ,The Fabulous Time Tortoise , Peter Piwowarski - ( 70s music site/photos ) Martin S, Steve Austin ,Traveller Dave, Herb, Tim Brighton, Vin Miles, Haze Evans , Noddy Guevara, Chris Brown, Janet Thompson, David Stooke, Gary Gibbons , Nigel Ayers, Rich Deakin ,Glenda Pescardo,Justin Warman,Brian F, Steve Bayfield, Kev Ellis, Paul Seaton and many other minor contributors for their help in providing the archival material related to these free festivals which has at enabled us to construct the site .

Any info to add ?-well don't just sit there , Contact us


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