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The Story behind the Festival

The Blackdown Hills Beer and Music Festival was born in 1996 in direct response to the imminent loss, due to budget cuts, of the music teacher at our local primary school.

The Festival became a huge success, and every year we have given substantial grants to schools and community groups in the Blackdowns , in line with our belief that everyone , regardless of age, ability, experience or income, should have the opportunity to enjoy making music.

Each year, the Festival gives grants for music teaching to our local schools. Without these grants, music would inevitably come very low down on the list of priorities for small schools on a tight budget, and many children might never have the chance to find out what they can do!

The Blackdown Hills Music Group was formed as a result of the money and interest generated by the Festival. Hundreds of people, young and old, have found themselves making music in the various bands which the Festival has helped to establish – the very popular Samba band,four Steel bands, a singing group and a salsa dancing class .Members of the Music Group even got together with Churchinford Cricket and Football Clubs to self-build a new pavilion, a much needed space where bands can practice. Most of the participants never thought they would have the opportunity to enjoy playing, singing or dancing in public! The rewards in terms of enjoyment, confidence building, community spirit – and the sheer sense of achievement in learning to do something new – have been enormous.

Some of the grants awarded by the festival

Every year the Festival gives grants for music teaching and equipment in local schools and other music groups and projects on the Blackdown Hills. So far these include,

  • Churchstanton Primary School
  • Buckland St. Mary Primary School
  • Upottery Primary School
  • Hemyock Primary School
  • Culmstock Primary School
  • Awliscombe Primary School
  • Blagdon Hill Primary School
  • Churchinford Pre School
  • Upottery Pre School
  • Buckland St. Mary Pre School
  • Hemyock Pre School
  • Culmstock Pre School
  • Churchstanton After School
  • Blackdown Hills Music Group
  • The Sheldon Singers
  • Clayhidon Church Organ Restoration Project
  • Barn Door Records
  • Churchinford Youth Group
  • Bishopswood Handbells
  • Blackdown Hills Folk Band