Having finally recovered from the weekend, I have had some time to think properly about Vintage at Goodwood. I think that honestly its main problem was that it was overhyped, because I went expecting little and had a really good time while others went expecting a lot and came away dissapointed. A large portion of the blame for this probably lies with Goodwood's PR team - Freud - who have been less than corteous to number of bloggers and also went a bit overboard with the PR in the run up to the festival.
I know that quite a few of the peolpe involved with the event in its early days and even on the weekend itself are feeling a bit abused and disgruntled, but I can't really comment much on that as having been turned down for accreditation I went as a paying punter.
What I can say is that I doubt that they will have made any money and that, aside from the PRs, I was treated well by all of the organisers that I came into contact with.
I can also vouch for the fact that the festival obvioulsy had teething problems, although I can't think of any festival I've been to that hasn't. Yes, there were long queues in the morning for the toilets, of which there weren't enough, and showers and campsite changing rooms. But all of these were very well maintained, with the occasional blockages and water loss repaired relatively rapidly for this scale of event. And the very fact that there were proper flushing toilets with loo roll and soap, showers and changing rooms with lights, mirrors and plug sockets for hair appliances was really quite something. I'm more used to portaloos and washing my hair in a bucket. There weren't enough foodstalls of places to sit, again simple errors of judgement from inexperienced festival organisers.
Yes, there was mud. No one can control the weather. But far from being the quagmire we were expecting, the soil actually dried up pretty quickly and copiuos quantities of woodchip were deployed overnight to try and soak up the worst of it.
There has been a lot of criticism of the commercial nature of the event - that there was little there that was free to do, that it was focused very much on shopping and that there was too much fancy dress and not enough dedicated vinatge lifestyle stuff. I agree to a certain extent. But there was quite a bit to do with free workshops, fashion shows (although I must admit these were very oversubscribed and I didn't get to go to a single one), talks and events, they were just small and poorly advertised. The only progamme available was a large hard back annual for £12, which was both absurdly expensive and impractical.
The popularity of the music tents was underestimated while the popularity of the main stage headliners was overestimated. Large swathes of empty field around the outdoor stages were a stark contrast to the sprawling queues to get into the 1940s themed Tanquery Torch Lounge. Many people missed some of the best music and artists due to lack of space and the timing of the main acts was pretty awful. But we did see the wonderful Puppini Sisters, rock n roll punk bands, swing bands, burlesque and plenty of wonderful dancers. The curator of the Torch tent said that they hadn't expected it to be such a hit and that next time it would be much bigger.
The Chap Olympiad was a particular highlight. I know some people have pointed out that you could pay £15 to see that in London, but the truth is that many of the people who saw it at Goodwood have probably never heard of The Chap and were delighted by the discovery. The same can be said of the Twentieth Century Society, the Leigh Bowery seaside-style poke-you-head through photo gallery and the bevvy of friendly Lipstick and Curls girls. Little touches like a old-time shoeshine stand, tea tents and actors performing staged vignettes were also peppered around the site helping make it both fun and interesting.
But what really made the event a joy was the people. It was truly lovely to see men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes dressed up to the nines, as so many of them did. What's more, the mix between vintage lifestylers, dabblers and fancy dressers from all eras was actually quite refreshing.
Yes, I can see that for the ardent vintage lifestyler and all the car and scooter enthusiasts involved it may have not been ideal, but their presence was hugely appreciated by the rest of us. We all put in more effort and had a better time because of them and I hope that they return if there is another one. I also hope that the organisers recognise the value of having them there and smooth over some of the disputes and hurt feelings that have been talked about by other bloggers. I had a great time there, but with a bit more thought this festival could be quite amazing.
Boring review bit over, pictures in the next post...