What’s a Wadfest?

That was a question that was put to me nearly 10 years ago.
At the time I was merely covering the Saturday evening entertainment and doing Tarot readings throughout the day. Little did I know that I’d end up running the weekend!
Wadfest is an annual sci-fi and fantasy themed camping event now entering it’s 10th year. Originally started by enthusiasts of Terry Pratchetts “Discworld” series and aimed at offering a fun, variety filled weekend for families at an affordable price, it has become a regular date on many a geeks calendar.
The event also raises money for charity, and over the last decade it’s raffle and charity auction have raised over ten thousand pounds for cancer research uk.
Ten years ago, a man named Victor Wadmore spotted a gap in the Discworld calendar. On alternate years there would be a camping event laid on by a company called Clarecraft, but there wasn’t anything to replace it in it’s off year. There was the Discworld convention, of course, but many found the price beyond their means, (not that it’s bad value for money, if you can afford it- go, it’s a great weekend!).
Waddy’s original plan was to have a small meet up at a centrally based camp site where we’d sit round a camp fire, have a drink and a chat and generally have a fun relaxing weekend, how little he knew!
Over 70 people booked into that first event, including myself. I had just been to my first Clarecraft event and was hungry for more.
Waddy was keen to make the event something that everyone would remember and so, knowing my background in entertainment, asked me to do a show. I enthusiastically agreed to help, and what followed was at the time the most rehearsed show I’d ever done, resulting in one of the most enjoyable evenings work I have ever done!
It was quickly decided by those who attended that first Wadfest, that the event was a success and it should become an annual occurrence.
Over the years I slowly took more responsibility over the weekend. I suggested ideas to Waddy and marvelled over the fact that he took them on board! By 2005 I was officially the events co-orgoniser and was in charge of the smooth running of the weekend itself.
In the last 10 years we have had many high points, including having Sir Terry Pratchett as our guest of honour in 2005, and also a few lows including losing one of our key team members and original Waddy Wrangler Karen to cancer in 2006. But we have always maintained our sense of fun and to that end get between 300 and 500 attendees every year.
There are 2 elements that make the weekends work: firstly our dedicated committee, who work tirelessly all year round to gather prizes for the games, or approach potential areas for advertising, or procuring items for the charity auction.
Secondly is the attitude of the people who come. If there wasn’t a bloody minded determination to have a good time no matter what we would never have survived the poor facilities of the first events site, let alone the wind rain and mud of Koom Valley in 2004 or the Chav invasion of 2009, (Don’t Ask!)
In a few weeks wadfesters will be congregating once more in Church Laneham and celebrating 10 years in their unique style, and no doubt there will be new stories to add to the Wadfest cannon. This year will be more sci-fi orientated than ever before, but will always maintain its relaxed, informal style that has made it so popular over the years. There will be entertainment, games & one or two surprises along the way and the best part is that tickets are still available!
If you wish to attend, you don’t have to be a discworld fan, just be ready to go with the flow and accept that anything can happen! Just go to www.wadfest.co.uk and click the tickets button.
So I hope that answers the question that was put to me 10 years ago. And if you still don’t know what a Wadfest is, neither do we!

Published in: on August 5, 2011 at 09:12  Leave a Comment  

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