The English Rivera is a beautiful part of South-West Devon mostly know for its nightlife culture. Unfortunately this area offers next to nothing when it comes to big music events and therefore the annual one-day festival Lemonfest is treated like a local religious celebration with people from all surrounding areas coming to the event at Newton Abbot’s racecourse. We headed down this year to check it out.
The Festival Site
The festival’s location is ideal for anyone in the South-West. Newton Abbot’s racecourse is right next-door to a Premier Inn, a 10 minute walk from the nearest train station and right in the middle of Devon’s two major cities, Exeter and Plymouth.
Walking through the festival’s gates it feels like the wardrobe leading to Narnia with the small looking festival opening up to a world of adventure. Lemonfest captures many different sides to a festival in such a limited area, with the typical Main Stage being the main attraction and the Locally Grown Stage giving an almost farm feel with bales of hay for people to sit on. For the more creative-minded people the Downtown Newton Abbot Stage had actors checking your passport before you partied outside an ice cream van equipped with speakers and decks. But if you’re not feeling a sing-a-long or a day light rave then The Lemonfeast Street Food Market was the place to be with local food establishments offering delicious treats to eat while the Lords Of Lighting fought in a brilliantly shocking battle – see what we did there?Source: Lemonfest / Official Facebook
The Crowd & Security
Lemonfest has a great balance when it comes to its crowd and it almost seemed that each areas were almost designed to play home to each crowds different tastes. The families could enjoy the Mainstage at one end, the ravers had their area in the tents and the band/acoustic crowd had their spot over by the locally grown stage.
However, it seemed the security team weren’t prepared for the electronic crowd or the substances that typically surround them. The poor initial security search at the gate meant people were having a good time from more than just alcohol in the Rinse-It DNB Arena and Soloud House Tent. However, it wasn’t the crowd that was the problem, it was the gang like behaviour from the security team. On a couple of occasions they tackled a vulnerable person to the ground while ignoring the conciliation between crowd members right under their noses. It seemed at times that the security team made the crowd feel hostile and clearly ruined the festival for a few people.
The festival has been running since 2010 and has always been a constant support of local music, with this year being no exception. Local legend Owen Penrice sprayed some lyrical fire over High Daniels’ grimey, garage set on the Downtown Stage. While on the Locally Grown Stage Someday I got the crowd throwing hay-bales around while performing their new single ‘Burn The Night‘ and a fantastic cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space‘. The only thing we would have liked to have seen would have been more local acts on the main stage. Being as there are not many events like this in the area it would be great to give them more of an audience as the other stages did feel a bit tucked away from the main crowds at times.
Despite having some awesome performances from Dub Pistols and The Subways on the Main Stage, overall it couldn’t compete with the pure volume of people in the Rinse-It DNB Arena. The tent was constantly packed throughout the day with people of all ages listening to the likes of Harri McClure and Raggadee & Steppin Razor lay down the filthy sounds of bass while emcees like Jolla kept the crowd alive.
One reason for this could have been down to the main stage lacking in any names that would really pull any extra people in and hence became overshadowed as the younger crowd were drawn more to the tents where they could dance around no matter who was performing. Investing in some even bigger names for future events, even if just the one big headliner, could really bring the stage, and the festival, up a level. The stage had it’s great moments but it sometimes didn’t feel to be the center-piece it should have been.
Value For Money & Should You Go Next Year?
For a day out that costs £20 a ticket, or £30 on the gate, it’s clear that Lemonfest is worth every single penny. For anyone fairly local its a fantastic event and no matter what the line-up it’s appreciated for being a great day out regardless. To take itself to the next level though some changes to the line-up could really help start to draw in people from further afield.
Lemonfest has spent the last 5 years providing the best of what the south-west offers and continues to get bigger and better every year. With this year’s huge local turn out it’s a definitely a good idea to save the date for next year!