It was a happy day when we threw open the gates to our first Folk by the Oak festival back in 2008, fulfilling our dream to bring together the wonderful musicians whom we have admired for so long. We were incredibly proud to find ourselves celebrating our 10th festival in 2017! The high calibre of our artists never fails to inspire us and it is all credit to them and their talent that the festival scene is thriving.
As a one day festival we felt it was important to bring together a collection of exceptional artists to give our audience a taste of the very best folk music around in a reasonably short space of time. In 2012 we added the Acorn Stage, which not only showcases incredible new talent, it also enables us to create a festival of wall to wall outstanding music.
We wanted Folk by the Oak to have a friendly, relaxed atmosphere - a happy mixture of local village fete and the full on festival experience! We are also indebted to our creative craftspeople, inspiring workshop leaders and culinary wizards for enriching our festival experience. They are the dedicated stallholders who bring the festival site alive with colour, creativity and imagination, showing the difference it makes when care and passion drive the making of delicious dishes or the crafting of handmade items.
A one day festival can make for a more convenient festival experience for families in particular, and so, on top of the many other activities onsite we decided to create a dedicated family area. As a consequence we have made lots of friends and discovered many imaginative people along the way - storytellers, circus performers, wand makers, knot makers, artists, bush craft folk and archers to name but a few!
Folk by the Oak has opened up exciting pathways to new projects which were all an absolute joy to be a part of. As well as organising Jim Moray’s 10th Anniversary Sweet England party at the Union Chapel, we were instrumental in creating the highly acclaimed Elizabethan Session and Sweet Liberties tour and recordings. Both were glorious gatherings of some wonderful folk musicians creating new music together and we are grateful to the invaluable support of EFDSS (The English Folk Dance and Song Society) in both instances. From the outset we wanted to bring something unique to each festival and these projects allow us the opportunity to add something very special to our Main Stage line up.
Our next project, Shake the Chains, was an exciting new touring commission from celebrated UK contemporary folk singer songwriters with special guests, who explored the role music has played in social change, resistance and protest. The resulting songs were toured throughout the UK in February 2017, with the band re-grouping for a special performance at our 10th festival. The live CD was released to much acclaim in September. See www.shakethechains.com for full details.
Our latest folk collaboration, The Lost Words - Spell Songs, is a musical companion piece to The Lost Words - A Spell Book by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris. We will be working with Karine Polwart, Julie Fowlis, Seckou Keita, Kris Drever, Kerry Andrew, Rachel Newton, Beth Porter and Jim Molyneux, to sing nature back to life through the power of music, poetry, art and magic.
We chose at the outset to support a local charity on a long term basis so they might benefit from our relationship more fully. Willow are a wonderful organisation who are based in Hatfield and provide special days out for seriously ill young adults. You can read more about their work here. To date we have raised a phenomenal £95,755.27 through ticket contributions, the generosity of the crowd on the day, and further donations, all going to support Willow's vital work.
We are lucky to be able to stage Folk by the Oak in Hatfield House’s parkland – a beautiful rolling landscape surrounded by ancient trees. The Elizabeth Oak Field where the festival takes place is the inspiration for our name. It is the perfect backdrop for Folk by the Oak, and enhances that wonderful sense of freedom and escape that festivals strive to create.
Caroline & Adam Slough, Festival Directors