Scaled-down BerkoFest 2014 puts stars of tomorrow in the spotlight

Hundreds of people came together on Saturday for an afternoon of music when BerkoFest made its return to Berkhamsted after taking a break from the town last year.

The music and comedy event was launched in 2012, but had to be cancelled in 2013 as the organisers could not find the funding they needed for the event.

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This time, a scaled-down version of the festival focused more on talent from the nearby area – rather than the pricier acts who performed at the first BerkoFest.

Founder and organiser Charlie Hussey said: “It was a fantastic event, with a really lovely, fun and mellow vibe.

“We are trying to promote the best of Berkhamsted – which is why we call it a grassroots event.

“The Swan Youth Centre had their own tent – it was almost like they had their own mini-festival. It was mad, it was crazy, it was fun and it was vibrant.”

The tent – exclusively for 12 to 18-year-old performers, who also perform regularly at the town centre club’s monthly gig nights – hosted 11 acts.

Mr Hussey said: “There was happy madness in there and that’s part of what we are doing.

“We are trying to help that local charity, which has been having funding difficulties, and give them a platform where they can be seen by a larger audience.

“If one of them one day becomes an Adele or something, that’s what we are after.”

The 2012 BerkoFest attracted big-name acts like Showaddywaddy and Seth Lakeman, but this year’s event has focused more on the stars of tomorrow.

That’s not to say there weren’t any of the more familiar faces from the world of music and comedy at this year’s festival in Berkhamsted Cricket Club.

Stand-up comic, actor and writer Robin Ince – who also lives in Berkhamsted – and Lee Thompson from Madness headlined BerkoFest 2014.

The event also provided an opportunity for the town’s businesses to plug their wares. There were stalls from newly opened Haresfoot Brewery, Scoops ice cream parlour and Dar Papillon tea rooms, among others.

Profits from the event itself will be distributed between the cricket club, Swan Youth Centre, Rotary Club of Berkhamsted Bulbourne – and a fund for a possible future BerkoFest.

Mr Hussey said he wanted to thank everyone who came and supported this year’s festival – including his fellow organisers Lucindar Parker, Rebecca Van Leeuwen and Shane Lamont.

BerkoFest 2014 had a scaled down capacity of 500 this year after attracting more than 3,500 people to the 2012 festival.

Mr Hussey said: “This one was a smaller event, but worked really well and was a very family-friendly event that everybody enjoyed.

“We achieved what we set out to – a happy audience and an event that was full to capacity.”