Out Of The Ordinary Festival, 2009
OOTO is 3 day eco & family friendly festival set in the beautiful Sussex countryside celebrating the Autumn Equinox. Solar powered stages and wind generators power fascinating talks and workshops plus children’s activities and a green market place plus many more out of the ordinary surprises!
We had a crew of eight GAMA volunteers to set up and run the GAMA camping area. Jo and Degs went to the site on Wednesday to check and mark out the GAMA area.
In spite of the lack of publicity we had about 30 guests including friends, partner and carers of people with disabilities. Our guests had 3 campervans, 11 tents and a caravan. Several have camped with us at other events. They included a band playing at the festival, a cafe owner and a woman running creative workshops for all ages. We also offered our facilities to guests and crew camping elsewhere.
One person arrived in a campervan at 11.30 pm on Friday. As it was not safe to drive across the festival site in the dark he was accommodated elsewhere. We could have made room for him on Saturday if necessary. OOTO arranged for him to charge his wheelchair close to where he was parked.
We had just enough space for all our guests and crew. OOTO provided a 20ft square white marquee as a shelter and information point furnished with tables and chairs. As the weather was fine all weekend we used the green space outside for meals and for children to play. We did not have electricity but it would have been available if needed. Two guests brought flowers made of foam to decorate the marquee and tea light lanterns for inside and outside the marquee.
A sink and separate stand pipe were nearby.
The wide access toilet remained usable all weekend (although it was not emptied), thanks to our notices and lookouts and the well-constructed compost loos nearby. One of the compost toilets had a child seat but it was as high as the others and not signposted or easy to find. Festivals need to provide lower seats and wider cubicles for young children. As usual the crew kids played happily together and with guests. This was particularly appreciated by the mothers of two boys with types of autism.
We had a radio to link us to OOTO organisers, site manager and security. We had no security or anti-social behaviour problems. There was a lot of mutual help and we had time to talk. Two of our guests as well as Unity And Devision sang in the Lost Horizon open mike session on Sunday evening. We welcomed Lorraine who had come to OOTO with her two children and two friends to run creative activities for all ages using poetry, story-telling, music and puppets. She set up a gazebo as a workshop space and ran a session on Saturday afternoon. The circus area was nearby.
We had to be careful that none of the children accidentally or deliberately strayed into the marked off area next to the marquee where equipment and fuel for the fire show was stored. We would have preferred a more secure fence. We were not far from the centre of the festival but the circus area and cabaret tent were between GAMA and the peace circle. In future we would like to be on on of the radial routes directly to the centre. Distances which seem trivial to most people are difficult and even painful for people with physical disabilities. We were very pleased to be close to the warm showers, cafe, live music and sauna provided by Lost Horizon. We were also close to the cabaret and negotiated a short cut through their bar one evening. Jerry, who has worked for GAMA at other festivals, provided an audio description of an escapology act in the cabaret tent for a guest temporarily unable to see.
On Monday some people had to leave early but many stayed to enjoy the sunshine and share food and talk. Lost Horizon asked us for advice about making their showers more accessible. We will send them some ideas for future events.
We provided guidance to stalls at short notice. Access varies but there were some good examples, including seats in Steve’s Cantina and the low counter on the Trailer Trashed wagon.
We need a system for reserving essential vehicle spaces so that we have enough frontage on to fire lanes for all to be parked side by side. We also need enough internal space for a communal green for safe play and for people to meet, and clear paths for all to access the marquee and toilet[s]. OOTO showed how a small festivals can provide accessible camping and we would like more to make the effort. We are grateful for the support of the organisers and site crew.
Here’s to OOTO 2010!