Your festival stories

Can you remember the very first festival in 1983? Have any of its most famous performers ever made a surprise visit to your shop? Do you have any ‘behind-the-scenes’ stories?  Do you travel each year from far away just to come to the festival?

You can post your festival stories here. Just click the ‘leave a comment’ tab. We’ll then add the best to the main pages.

You can also share your stories/photos and get involved in the conversations, by emailing or by joining us on or (@monfestiv).

With thanks to Emma Cheshire-Jones at ECJ Photography for these 2011 festival photos.

  1. Jenny Abbott Smith

    I remember the first Monmouth Festival very well! John and I were members of Centre Players at that time. We had parts in the first play staged at the festival -“Bad day at Blzckfrog Creek.” I was Old Ma Treacle but can’t remember which part John had. I had to say the first line – “there ain’t no more
    black-eyed peas”- now one of my favourite groups!!!! We were also in The Pied Piper but I’m not sure if that was the same year. I do know that I was a rat!
    The first festival was very much a local affair. On the Saturday afternoon, or Sunday, I took children from Overmonnow Primary School to perform 4 country dances .. they were fab!
    In 1986 John and I were married. On the Wednesday before John played with the Clivedon Set, their first appearance at the festival. On the Saturday, the day we got married, it was the turn of The Moss Empire music hall. After our reception at The Kings Head, then owned by Keith Gough, lots of our guests had to leave promptly because they were on stage. It was a lovely sunny evening, so most of our guests just stayed in the square for the entertainment. I remember quite a few tipsy friends weaving their way down Monnow Street, still with top hats on!
    I have very fond memories of those early Festival days and I’m looking forward to Monmouth Festival 2012.

  2. Thanks Jenny – some lovely anecdotes – I’ll get this out via Facebook etc too!

  3. Seeing Jenny’s post brought back a load of great memories. As one of the founding committee members I was at John and Jenny’s reception (hi guys, hope you’re well!) and remember the day vividly- it was as much fun as she says!

    I recall those early committee meetings being fairly earnest affairs- members, as I recollect, included the indomitable John Hamilton in the Chair, the late Bob Linwood, Paul Meredith, Bleddyn Richards (ever the stalwart to this day I gather), myself and one or two others whose names escape me. I’m not too sure what the ‘vision’ was in those days, just to celebrate Monmouth and its rich artistic heritage. Oh, and to make sure everyone had fun, whatever their demographic!

    The spin off from the festival, of course, was the (semi)legendary Rockfair on the banks of the Wye by the Rowing Club. We had some fabulous bands (playing to audiences of up to 2,000- some of whom even paid!) on a rickety scaffold stage-including the like of The Mannish Boys, Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack and even a guest appearance from none other than Robert Plant.

    We survived on the goodwill of the locals, the occasional regional arts council grant and a lot of Punch House / Vine Tree/ Nags Head (et al) beer and peanuts! I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel to know that the festival is still going strong after 30-odd years and that it’s now in such safe hands. Keep it going, folks, and I really must try and pop down and take some of it in soon……..good luck for 2012 and beyond!

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