Marion has compiled the WOW awards. WOW stands for Wild/Wacky/Wonderful/Whatever-you-like Old(er) Woman. It’s an off-beat perspective on the festival experience, from a solo traveller with mobility problems (‘I’ve got Parkinson’s disease but it hasn’t got me’), who eats vegetarian food, and who enjoys the ‘incidentals’ of festivals, such as cafes, conversations and small-scale performances more than the main stage events. She decided to mark the high-spots of her festival summer and share her recommendations. We have to say that the views below are purely Marion’s – and are not necessarily GAMA’s.

The WOW Awards 2011 Part 1: Food

Winner of the 2011 Best Festival Cafe award is…

The Home-grown Hangout cafe (Sunrise and Secret Garden Party).

One of their aims is to bring food fresh from their allotments to the festivals. My favourite festival café. The most friendly welcome. The best breakfast: a good variety of dishes with excellent veggie sausages and a very flexible range of choices. The most easy-going (for example a guy took up large cushion for several hours sleeping without anyone disturbing him, just working round him). A place for interesting conversations. Indeed, in my opinion, the best way to spend the morning at any festival. The cafe also won my disabled friendly award. One of the team always offered to help me, and there was also a good variety of seating to suit all needs. Congratulations to Niklas and his wonderful team, who really understand what makes a great café. I hope to see them at all the festivals I go to next year.

Best ‘Full Board’ award (i.e. a range of food at different times of the day)

Winner: Buddhafield café (Glastonbury, Green Gathering, OffGrid)

They served a tasty full veggie breakfast and a good range of options at all times of the day. Special mention must go to their hearty lentil soup and the walnut lasagne which I crossed a whole festival site for.

Best Sunday (veggie) Roast award

Winner: Chai Shop Organic at Croissant Neuf Summer Party (so good I tried to eat two!)

Runner-up: Queen Delilah’s (Glastonbury)

Runner-up: Buddhafield café at Glastonbury, Green Gathering, Off Grid.

Best Healthy Smoothie award

Winner: the Raw Food Cafe at Sunrise Off Grid. Also impressive was Pete’s great enthusiasm about the food, encouraging people to taste it and try small samples.

Best Afternoon Tea award

Winner: Kate’s Kitchen (at Sunrise). Delicious cakes and perfectly brewed tea and coffee served on beautiful crockery by a delightful team.

Runner Up: Tea dance refreshments at Croissant Neuf

Best Cheese on Toast award

(There was a period in my festival summer when all I wanted to eat was cheese on toast: hence this award)

Winner: Weirdigans at Green Gathering, a delightful café, which I’d somehow missed at previous festivals, and which also provided me with the most interesting encounters and conversation.

Runner-up: Tea And Toast stall at Secret Garden Party, perfectly positioned, friendly and helpful. Tables and chairs made this a disabled-friendly spot too.

Best “Champagne” Cocktail award

Winner: Baby Sam’s cocktail bar at Croissant Neuf. Tasty and zingy drink, and a table with flowers to sit at to sip at.

Best Crêpe award

Winner: The Forestiere (mushrooms in a cream and tarragon sauce with extra mature cheddar) from ‘Crepe, Monsieur?’ at Green Peaks Festival, which also won the Best Banter between Staff award.

Best Salad Platter award

Winner: Leon’s at Glastonbury. Love the food, hate the location. Solution: I take a sealable plastic food box, tip the salad in and eat it where I like. Or I use his vegetarian recipe books.

Best Cafe Music award

Winner: Buddhafield café The team have an eclectic set of playlists to share.

Special Award:
The stylish and quirky Kill Or Cure area, run by the delightful witches. A warm welcome, a pot of tea or perhaps a glass of sloe gin, an in-depth health consultation, and the chance to buy one of their marvellous potions and ointments. Or you might catch a story or a fascinating workshop. This year I enjoyed their generous hospitality at Glastonbury, Croissant Neuf, and Sunrise Off Grid.

Special Award:
Fayre’s Fair at Glastonbury for their immediate and effective response to my arrival, near to fainting, after a long and difficult trek across the site through the gloomy mud. They sat me down and brought me breakfast. Many thanks. The café is run by volunteers in aid of the Ringwood Waldorf School.

Special Award for the most generous and versatile use of a beautifully decorated space:
Creative Intentions cafe at Green Peaks Festival. It generously hosted a speakers forum, open mic sessions, a stall in aid of the Pegasus Childrens Trust and a fire circle. Thanks to Paula Kershaw and the rest of the team.

Special Insomniac Award:
The 24 hour curry stall at Green Gathering. It was such a great comfort knowing that I was only ever 5 minutes away from a plate of dahl…

The WOW Awards 2011 – Part 2

Best Performance Music Award:

Only Joe at Chai Wallahs, Secret Garden Party.
This 9 piece Reggae band range from “deep bass driven Steppas to up-beat Roots Reggae and classic Ska Riddims” (they say). “A positive message together with a non-stop, music-to-move-you mission” for sure; just the opening notes of ‘The Big Sound’ and ‘Live As One’ would be enough to draw me across a festival site. This time, though, I was ready half an hour early, and stayed right at the front for the whole set. A top festival moment was when Zico, the talented vocalist, remembered me from last year (we’d chatted over late night chips) and gave me a hug.

Special Award to:

Seize The Day
Not just for their consistently brilliant live performances; not just for their consistently radical politics; not just for songs which rouse and inspire us; for all these as well as for ‘walking the walk’ and firing us up for positive change. My “summer wouldn’t be complete without seeing them live” band.

Best Performance Award:

Drama‘La Boîte Noire’ by Bootworks Theatre at Glastonbury.
A 40’s film noir influenced performance by 4 characters, each in a ‘Red Box’ Stunning. Gripping, even outdoors in the middle of a muddy field!

Best Performance Award:

Multi-sensory kinetic theatre. Electric Spectacle by 85A collective at Secret Garden Party. Into a strange haunting space where musical automata perform their weird opera.

Best interactive comedy Award:

The Horse Box at Glastonbury.
A small group of punters are invited into – yes – a horse box where they meet an aristocrat and her ‘assistant’….

Best Performance at Spirit of ’71 stage Award (Glastonbury):

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.
I’d thought he was a one-hit wonder, even at the time, but his set was a revelation. The energy; the stamina; the costumes; the dancing; the flirting; the strong voice: impressive in a performer of any age, but a man in his 70th year? Wow! There was a wide range of great songs; we were looking forward to ‘Fire’ and we were not disappointed. A great showman; a great show. Edgar Broughton: sounding better than ever

Best group singing Award:

Bhajans with Pete and Pam at Rainbow Superspirit.
A deeply heart-opening experience.

One Perfect Number Awards:

  • Lamb: ‘Wise Enough’ (Sunrise)
  • Pat Orchard: ‘The Singing Grass’ (Glastonbury)
  • Lost Padres: ‘Your Love is Taking Me Higher’ Acoustic Space, Healing Field, Glastonbury.
    A young woman was sitting at the piano on one corner of the Healing Field at Glastonbury on Sunday evening. We asked her if she’d play something for us, and she sang a beautiful song which really moved us. She said she was still in the process of composing it, but it seemed perfect to us… (If she reads this, do get in touch; we’d love to hear the song again)

“Gotta Dance!” awards:

  • Kangaroo Moon at the Tadpole stage, Glastonbury. Tired though I was…
  • The Monster Ceilidh Band at Sunrise Off Grid (pity that when they invited couples they defined that as a man and a woman – still we all got a chance to move to their great sound later)
  • Seize the Day at Sunrise. Also winners of the “Agincourt’ award, to honour the audience and band whose energy and enthusiasm were not dampened by the steady rain: “We few – well not that few – we band of punters…”
  • Best Small Stages Award:

    Sangers at Off Grid.
    Built at the roadside and horse-drawn, this stage was great to visit at any time, but came into its own late at night. The MC gave a powerful political speech at the opening, and combined this passion with aggressive rants and never-ending jokes. The music, starting with David Sanger himself, was always entertaining, sometimes brilliant.

    The Acoustic Music Space Award at Glastonbury:

    A mixture of workshops and performances, the atmosphere relaxed and full of harmony. Highspots this year included a gong meditation by Stefan Cartright and dancing to Lost Padres.

    The Impulse Buy I’m So Glad I Bought award:

    Tom McNair’s Criminal Justice CD, which I bought, completely on impulse, at the market at Rainbow 2000 Superspirit camp. I’d never heard him play, but the young person who sold it to me assured me: “My dad’s really good.” How true! My favourite track? ‘I’m Coming Home’.

    Most thought-provoking, inspiring speakers Awards:

    • Theo Simon: The Heart of Activism (Sunrise) & The Luddites (Off Grid).
    • Brigit Strawbridge: The Importance of Bees, at Glastonbury
    • Gregory Sams: ‘Universal Consciousness’, at Secret Garden Party (new book: ‘Sun of gOd’ “The Sun is smarter than we think”.
    • Mike Grenville: Transition is Now – but How? (Sunrise, Green Gathering, Off Grid)
    • Rob Hopkins: The Transition Movement (Off Grid)
    • Tim (Mac) McCartney: The Children’s Fire (Off Grid)
    • Nicola Peel on her work on the Amazon (Off Grid)
    • Charlie Veitch: a 12 minute talk at the Stiglitz Sessions, Secret Garden Party
    • Chris Church: 40 years of green campaigning at Green Gathering
    • Nick Jukes (International Campaign for Humane Education):Towards Deep Sustainability; workshop at Green Gathering

    Best Panel Discussions Award:

    • The Green Festival Movement: at Green Gathering.
    • Smallholdings: at Off Grid.
    • Resilience: at Off Grid.

    Best Installations Award:

    Sonic Forest at Glastonbury.
    In a sea of mud we co-create a beautiful soundscape.

    Most Helpful Stewards Award:

    • Fiona Ingrams, in charge of caravan parking at Glastonbury. Thanks for being both understanding and boldly decisive.

    • Chris at Croissant Neuf, who somehow guessed that it was me at the gate, and crossed the whole site to help me.
    • Clive at Off Grid, who found me a great pitch, and organised a band of helpers to get me through the mud

    Least Helpful Festival Worker Award:

    It was pouring with rain as Arthur Brown started his set at ‘Spirit of ’71 stage at Glastonbury. But good news: after buying a coffee I could take it to the adjoining tent which had tables and chairs (and about 20 other people), and with sections rolled up as they were, a perfect view of the show. Imagine my distress when a guy started rolling the canvas down, because the marquee was closed due to no performance going on in there. Simple humanity might have made an exception, but no, he was just obeying orders and I had to stand shivering in the rain.

    Best Outdoor Workshop Award:

    Laser Star Tour by Dave Molz at Sunrise.
    I learnt more than ever before because the pointer actually seemed to touch the star.

    Cosiest Venues on a cold wet night:

    Small World café and stage (Glastonbury,Secret Garden Party, Green Gathering).

    WOW – thank you Marion!

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