Posted by Gillian McNern
When the venue for the Vintage Festival changed from a stately home in Northamptonshire to a “wilderness” near Oxford I really didn't know what to expect. The tickets I won in Preloved's Vintage Festival competition became tickets to The Wilderness Festival.
It was all very well organised at the Wilderness Festival and we were soon parked and through the security procedure at the gate and into the camp-site.
There, every kind of tent in every colour from camouflage to floral covered the ground as far as the eye could see. Once through the camp-site, the Festival ground was before us. Huge colourful flags waved from tall poles, welcoming us. As we stood above a grassy incline gazing across at a vista of marquees and thronging festival visitors, we reminded ourselves we were here for the Vintage and sought out the Vintage Village.
First we found the Vintage Marketplace, a wide grassy avenue with tented stalls along each side and we dived in for a good browse among the vintage wares, feather hats, parasols, costume jewellery, scarves, and bags. There were several purveyors of Retro and a stack of retro cases and some small retro furniture caught my eye.
We loved the stall selling brooches, buttons, fans and boxes and boxes of appealing trinkets and spent ages making our choices there. And, of course, there were many, many gorgeous dresses to admire.
At the end of the avenue we passed under a vast arch saying VINTAGE and we were into a small enclosure of music, art, and upcycling with deckchairs for taking a rest, mask-making and story-telling up in a treehouse, and a retro car awaiting a paint-job – which it got during the event.
Our seven-year-old twins discovered a marquee where they could paint pictures, model junk, paint tiles, and make up things from snippets of fabric, and they happily settled in there with the cheerful artist-play leaders. Round the curve in the path there was a Roller-Disco, some vintage vehicles, and a gloriously decorated Grand Travelling Insect Circus Musuem & Peep-Show Mechanical Menagerie where for 50p one could see small marvels of an earlier era of entertainment. And finally up the steps of The Torch Club for quick-stepping, fox-trotting, and jiving to live bands amid the tropical palms.
Back outside, impromtu entertainments delighted us. We had unaccompanied close-harmony vintage era classics by lovely singing trio, Elle and the Pocket Belles. Tall dark-haired Elle accompanied by two pocket-sized blondes looked sweet and sang sweetly in matching navy polka dot sailor dresses.
A pair of brightly striped bathing tents came by with a pair of female bathing “instructors” inside in vintage bathing costumes, who then began to teach passers-by to swim by hilariously demonstrating a standing swimming drill. Later I witnessed a very funny theatrical ultra-slow-motion four-person ladies' punch-up. There is no other way to describe it! Hard to tell who won.
We took afternoon tea on the top deck of a double-decker bus, ate candyfloss and chocolate pancakes, the boys had rides on camels, and we saw the most fantastical costumes on Wilderness party-goers heading for the late-night Wilderness parties. Oh, and the weather was lovely. Thank you, Preloved, we had a really great time.