Baring-Gould Folk Festival in Okehampton attracts the top toe tapping folksters

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Hosted by Devon’s folk arts charity Wren Music, the Baring-Gould Folk Festival at Okehampton is in its 10th year, and attracts the best in folk music from great artists from Devon, around the UK, and beyond. It takes place from Friday, October 23 to Sunday October 25.

There are over 25 events over the weekend, including concerts and ceilidhs (folk dances). And there are a wide selection of singarounds, sessions and workshops for adults and for young people where you can join in the fun of music-making and learn some new tunes. The festival has its very own prize Conker Competition (conkers provided!).

In the streets there will be the exciting young dancers of Moulton Morris from Northampton, and West Devon’s Cogs and Wheels Ladies Morris.

On Friday, evening you’ll have the chance to hear some of the team of professional folk singers and musicians at the heart of Wren Music, including internationally-acclaimed duo Marilyn Tucker and Paul Wilson, award-winning Border piper David Faulkner, Westcountry fiddle stars Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll, mandolin wizard Matt Norman, and rising singing star Sarah Owen.

On Saturday, the Baring-Gould concert is a showcase for the vocals of Martin and Shan Graebe. The afternoon concert includes an opportunity to hear traditional music from the Anatolian region of Turkey, from baglama player and singer Murat Kaya. The evening concert  featues some of the UK’s finest folk singers such as Chris Coe and Brian Peters.

There’s a Saturday ceilidh with Devon favourites Spinach For Norman. The Sunday afternoon ceilidh offers another chance to dance. All dances will be explained, and no experience is needed to have a great time for all the family.

This is followed by the Festival Youth Concert, featuring young singers and musicians who have been taking part in Festival workshops, plus the premiere of a newly-written suite of songs from local singers Okehampton Youth Chorus and SoX, which has been made possible thanks to financial support from the PRS Foundation for New Music.

The festival is rounded off on Sunday with the farewell concert, featuring performances by many of the festival artists.

In addition to individual workshops, you can join in the festival choir (led by folk singer Chris Coe), and the Festival Orchestra. Both will perform at the Sunday concert, where the orchestra will feature squeezebox virtuoso John Kirkpatrick as special guest soloist. Young people will have their own singing and music workshops (with loads of instruments provided), hosted by Wren’s youth groups, and chances to perform too.

The festival is inspired by the folk song collecting of Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) – one of the Victorian era’s great social historical researchers. He undertook the first serious and sustained attempt to collect the traditional songs of the English peasantry and workers, predominantly in west Devon.

Check out the Baring-Gould Folk Festival website from more, or call Wren Music on 01837 53754 or even  drop in to the Wren Music office at 1 St James Street, Okehampton, EX20 1DW, between 10am and 5pm weekdays – it is down the alley behind St James Chapel, just by the three iron pigs.

Tickets are on sale now. All-weekend passes are only £50 full price, £35 concessions and £20 for 5 to 16 year olds.

For people who live at EX20 1- – addresses, there is a special half-price weekend ticket offer of only £25 full price, £17.50 concessions and £10 for 5 to 16 year olds. Day tickets and single event tickets are also available, and under 5s are admitted free.

(Images, from the top Nick Becki, Spinach, Moulton Morris, Murat Kaya, John Kirkpatrick)