Sheffield festival with a cause returns

Sheffields largest free arts and music festival, Peace in the Park, returned to the Ponderosa Park in Netherthorpe this weekend for its 10th anniversary. Our picture shows some of of those who attended the event.
Sheffields largest free arts and music festival, Peace in the Park, returned to the Ponderosa Park in Netherthorpe this weekend for its 10th anniversary. Our picture shows some of of those who attended the event.
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“I think for me it’s more than just a festival,” said Sara Hill, director of Peace in the Park, which returns to Upperthorpe this weekend for the first time in two years.

“It’s about a movement for peace in the city that brings people together.”

Up to 10,000 people attended the last outing of Sheffield’s largest free music and arts festival, in 2014, but the event was shelved last year because of difficulties raising the necessary funds.

“Always the issue is funding, which is why we didn’t do the festival last year,” said Sara. “We will never fence off the Ponderosa and charge people, but if everybody came along and just gave a pound, then the festival would be guaranteed for the next year.”

This year’s event runs from midday to 8pm on Saturday, with ‘a lot of returning favourites’, she said.

Live music is on offer on the main stage, and the ‘other stage’ will be curated by Martin Bedford, of Honey Bee Blues Club.

There will also be a healing area with yoga and hula hooping, circus skills workshops - including outdoor trapeze - and a new environmental area, run alongside the Sheffield Climate Alliance, with information stalls raising awareness of climate issues.

Plenty of food and drink stalls are promised, too, including Thornbridge’s beer garden in the main field and a rum bar.

The festival originally grew out of an anti-war event held on Devonshire Green in 2003 but is now a much bigger affair.

“I think it brings a lot of different communities together,” said Sara.

“It’s a really well-engaged festival and I think that comes across in the atmosphere on the day.

“But also Peace in the Park stands for something - it stands for peace, that’s always been the point of the festival.

“That’s why we’re very keen to have an environmental area. We can’t live peacefully unless we’re also living peacefully with the planet.

“As much as it makes me sound like a massive hippy, I think the science is on my side!”

She added: “One of the things that makes Peace in the Park what it is is the fact it’s run by volunteers.

“Obviously that comes with a certain level of risk in terms of people having time to commit to the event - particularly fundraising.”

Organisers are looking at alternative sources of funding for next year, including lottery money.

Fundraising for a planned festival in 2017 will start immediately with an event happening at Yellow Arch Studios in Neepsend from 8pm this Saturday.

“We’re very determined to put on a festival as many years as we can.

“We want to have it every year. But we accept that we have to do it every other year if we can’t afford to do it.”