Deer Shed aims to get the balance right for festival-goers

Deer Shed Festival is back at Baldersby park, Topcliffe, this weekend.
Deer Shed Festival is back at Baldersby park, Topcliffe, this weekend.
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Deer Shed Festival returns for a sixth year at Baldersby park this weekend with the simple aim of offering something for all tastes and ages.

While the music is always going to be the initial draw for festival-goers to any such event – John Grant, Billy Bragg and The Unthanks are headlining at the Topcliffe site this year – organisers are determined to ensure their reputation as one of the best family-friendly festivals remains intact.

Oliver Jones, who has helped curate the festival since its inception, admitted it was a tough challenge to get the balance right for all age ranges.

“We used to go to festivals without kids and then once we had kids, we didn’t feel that there was a festival that catered for everybody in the family,” said Jones.

“For example you could go to a festival where the kids were happy but dad sulks around because there are no good bands on. Then the alternative would be where the kids are moping around and the adults were suitably entertained.

“So getting that balance is what Deer Shed is all about really and it can be tricky to achieve and get it right and it involves a lot of hard work.”

Hear Oliver Jones preview Deer Shed on our latest PostMusic podcast

As well as the main headliners, Villagers (Saturday, main stage), Dutch Uncles (Saturday, main stage) and Du Blonde (Friday, Lodge Stage) will also prove a big draw, with Irish singer-songwriter Damien Dempsey competing for crowds alongside Grant and The Wedding Present last thing on Saturday night.

After the addition of Literary and Spoken Word events to last year’s festival, this time there is a slightly edgier line-up with spoken word shows from Andy Kershaw, and Paul Arthurs, aka Bonehead from Oasis.

And troubadour Bragg will also be on hand to give a candid interview with Guardian journalist Dave Simpson, with Viv Albertine doing likewise with Simpson’s newspaper colleague Laura Barton.

And this year’s theme of ‘Up In The Air’ means that this year’s selected movies are Legend of the Guardians, Galaxy Quest, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and two-time Oscar-winning, family-favourite Up.

As ever, science will play a big role at the festival

“Every year we have a theme and it flavours our curation of what we do across all the different areas,” explained Jones.

“We do a lot of arts stuff, literary, a lot of spoken word and we do a lot of science as well. We have a very big science tent and that has been a very big part of the festival for the last three years or so - so the theme will be reflected in the scientific things we do.

“So, for example, this year we’ve got a guy called Andy Chipling who is perhaps the most renowned UK paper aeroplane-making professional and that is something perhaps a bit more wholesome and will leave mums and dads going happy because their kids are not stuck in front of an electronic device or something.

“The stuff we do in the science tent is very hands-on and a lot of fun - 30 kids taking electronic recycled video recorders to bits and all the kinds of things that you’re not allowed to do in your own house.

“I guess it’s like a Pixar film really - you go along to a Pixar film with your kids and everybody enjoys it as it appeals on so many different levels and that’s always a thing we try and get right and make sure there is something for everybody to do.”

For more information on the sold-out event head to the Deer Shed website