Julie Marshall talks to Ed Faulkner
As the 80,000 music fans begin arriving in Leeds today for the annual festival, a few miles to the east, in the small village of Sledmere, Ed Faulkner and his team of volunteers will be clearing up after Tribfest, the world’s biggest tribute act festival which took place last weekend.
Now in it’s eighth year, Tribfest attracts around 4,000 festival goers, a far cry from the 700 hardy souls who braved the floods at the inaugural event in 2007.
Festival director Ed says; “After the disastrous weather in 2007 we thought we were finished, but within days, 500 had booked tickets for 2008 and we knew we’d be OK. Since then the numbers have grown each year and this year we topped the 4,000 mark for the first time. We booked 40 bands in 2007 and 160 this year.”
Headliners on the main stage were Meet Loaf, Kings Ov Leon and Abba Revival with the Antarctic Monkeys, Fad Manners and Blondie tribute act Heart of Glass doing the honours in the VIP big top.
“We have a tried and tested procedure to work out which bands to feature, says Ed. “We get feedback from Tribfest visitors, look at social media sites and see who is playing at other venues and getting the best reviews. We usually try a new act out in the VIP tent first to gauge reaction before considering them for the main stage.
“For example after the Tina Turner tribute Totally Tina performed in the VIP tent on Friday, 70 or 80 people stopped me to say how fantastic it was and how much they’d enjoyed her show so she’ll definitely be considered for the main stage next year.”
Ed plays a very much hand-on role throughout the whole event. He was on the gate greeting the early bird visitors on Thursday afternoon and was back to wave some of them off on Monday morning. During the four-day festival he drives around in his electric buggy handing out daily bulletins, sorting out problems and speaking to the visitors who greet him with high fives, back slaps and hand shakes wherever he goes.
Ed, 54, who was born in Darlington but considers himself a Hull lad as he has lived there since the age of four, had the idea for Tribfest while touring with his own Beautiful South tribute band Beautiful Couch. “We played to 10,000 at the Mathew Street festival in Liverpool and I wanted to create a small festival in East Yorkshire,” he says.
“It took a lot of planning but we got the first event off the ground at the Driffield showground. The venue wasn’t really suitable as it was too close to the town and we had a lot of complaints from residents. We then moved to Beverley Polo Club but had the same problems so moved again to Sledmere House three years ago which is miles from anywhere and absolutely perfect.”
Ed ran Tribfest for a number of years while trying to hold down his day job – he’s a qualified social worker – but it has now taken over his life and is his full-time job.
There are 20 key members of staff involved in Tribfest but it’s the 70-strong army of volunteers that make sure the event goes ahead as smoothly as it does. “People often ask me what I am most proud of, says Ed, “ And I always say it’s the people who help out, my wife Jo, our family, friends and the volunteers. If I worked in any other industry and said: ‘will you come and work for me for peanuts’ – they’d tell me in no uncertain terms what to do. But with Tribfest they willingly give up weeks of their time to help out.
“It’s amazing. During the weekend, when the sun is shining the crowds are singing and dancing and everything is going well I just stand back and wonder just how we have managed to create it all.
“We gets lots of positive comments about the cleanliness of the site, the toilets and showers and the security guards who are absolutely amazing.
“In 2015 we are considering bringing in a mobile hairdresser and vanity cubicles so those who are camping without electricity can plug in their hairdriers and straighteners.”
In fact Tribfest are probably one of the few festivals to offer electrical hook ups for caravans. “Last year we had 220 vans, said Ed. “This year there were 350 and families plan their summer holidays around us – the kids insist on it.”
But, although Tribfest is over for another year there’s no respite. “After a few days holiday with Jo, we’ll start to plan Tribfest 2015,” says Ed.
Tribfest - August 20-23, 2015
Tickets are now on sale for next year’s event and, for two weeks only, are at a specially discounted rate.
Until noon on Tuesday August 26, adult VIP tickets are £80 (£130) with standard tickets £45 (£85).
Then until September 2 at noon, the discount price is £105 and £65.
Discounts for child and youth tickets also apply.
Electric hook ups are £70.
To book tickets, look at photographs from this year’s event or for more details see www.tribfest.co.uk