As Rochdale's Flying Horse Hotel prepares to welcome the crowds for its busiest weekend of the year, manager Patricia Boothman looks ahead to Rochdale Feel Good Festival and its 10th birthday.
When did you first get involved with Rochdale Feel Good Festival?
We've sponsored the main stage since 2009 but the festival is something we've supported since the beginning, so this year's tenth anniversary is a milestone for us too. It's a big positive for the town and something we've got to prepare for months in advance. The crowds have really grown in that time, and the buzz that the festival creates starts way before the summer. A lot of our regular customers come down but it draws large numbers of people from outside the borough now, as well as people who don't normally venture into town as much in the evenings normally so it's a good mix. Now the festival is well established there's a growing core who are always coming even before they know the line-up because they know they'll have a good time, so it's great to have that support.
What can we expect in 2017, more of the same?
The council wanted something special for the 10th birthday, so the main stage runs Friday (11 August 2017) evening, and on Saturday the main stage kicks off at lunchtime. When you add in that and the stages in the indoor venues we've probably more live music this year than we've ever had as well as the biggest headliner in Razorlight. After ten years you get a much better idea of what works and what doesn't, so although it's now a tried and tested formula there's always new things added, so there's also an improved Food and Drink Village on the new paved area by the Gracie Fields Statue, a new seating area, a Victorian Carousel, more family activities and a big exhibition by Greater Manchester Police with iconic police cars, vintage fire vehicles, police horses, uniforms, archive photography and memorabilia. If you've not been into the town centre for a while you'll notice a few other improvements around the site.
The busiest weekend of the year for you?
We're still a small business, so something like this is huge for us, not just behind the bar on the weekend but also the official warm up events we do which started last week. On Saturday we have Rochdale band 'Fool and the Gang' playing live, and on Thursday, 10 August 2017 the 'Idol Frets' – open mic night. We're also running a big outdoor bar on the Friday and Saturday too as well as in the pub.
And you're hosting live music inside during the festival?
Yes, on the Friday early evening we host acoustic duo 'Uncle Monkey' at 6pm before the main stage kicks off at 7pm, then after Daft Punk The Tribute come off the big stage we have Irish rock and party band The Scattering. During the festival we only pick the best of the best - tried and tested acts that we've hosted at The Flyer during the year that we know will go down a storm with the festival crowd.
Who's been your favourite headliners?
Tough one! Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were excellent, The Feeling got everyone dancing in 2014, The South were superb in 2015. Badly Drawn Boy was another memorable one for me. The Fratellis were fabulous last year, despite the weather over five thousand stayed right to the end to see them and they didn't disappoint. I'm very excited about Razorlight … they are playing some huge UK festivals this summer and are back to their best. They've had 3 top 5 albums including a number 1 and 8 top 10 singles which everyone knows. We're also expecting a few new tracks too.
Where's the aftershow party?
We're hosting the aftershow party, and although it's still free entry there will be bucket collections for Rochdale resident and mum of 2 Samantha Smith, who urgently needs to raise £150,000 for life-saving surgery in America. We want to raise as much as we can for this cause which is close to all our hearts. Party rock/pop band Lucky Pierre will be playing live and then on the first floor we have DJ sets so please do come and support it after Razorlight close the main stage.
What makes the festival special?
It's always a great show, with something for everyone. This year we've got dance music, pop, rock, tributes, brass, indie, acoustic, folk and more. We've two Rochdale acts playing the main stage and their biggest gig to date – Joe Dunne on Friday and The Recreation on Saturday. Because it's free I think it makes us almost unique. I don't know of another festival that's been delivering this calibre of entertainment for a decade and not charging for entry. This year the festival has been repeatedly named in the national media as one of the UK's best free festivals. It's great that local businesses and the council work together to put on an event of this size and shows what can be achieved when everyone works together.
And one of the Flyer's favourite bands is on the main stage?
Yes, Marblehead Johnson were our choice for the main stage and will be playing on the opening (Friday) night. They play Britpop covers, the classics from bands like Pulp, Oasis, The Verve, Paul Weller, Blur, Supergrass. It'll be like ten bands in one! They are superb live, but to see them on the main stage will be brilliant, like your best ever pub gig, supersized!!
The festival is funded by us together with sponsorship from
The Flying Horse Hotel,
Rochdale Football Club,
The Royal Toby,
Rochdale Town Centre Management and
Rochdale Sixth Form College.