A music festival has won an unprecedented third top national award in as many years, in its final year.
On Sunday, Hebden Bridge Blues Festival was voted Festival of the Year in the national British Blues Awards for the third consecutive time, fending off strong opposition from older, well-established festivals often in bigger towns and cities.
In the run up to this year’s festival in May, co-organisers Jason Elliott, Kate Dakers, Paddy Maguire and Jenna Hooson announced the 2014 festival would be the last.
After the presentation, which was made at one of those other very strong contenders, the Colne Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival, Hebden Bridge organiser Jason Elliott said: “We still can’t really work out how this has happened!
“Our small town festival should be being eclipsed by the big beasts like London or Colne, but something we’ve done seems to have caught the imagination of blues fans across the globe.
“If ever there was a perfect time to call it a day, I guess this is it. We would also like to take the opportunity to thank the many people in the upper Calder Valley who have supported us over these four years.”
Indicative of the festival’s strength is the fact that other British Blues Award winners last weekend who have performed at Hebden Bridge Blues Festival included Chantel McGregor (Guitarist), Jo Harman (Female Vocals), Aynsley Lister (Song of the Year, Songwriter), Sarah Skinner (Instrumentalist) and Marcus Bonfanti (Acoustic Act).
Other nominated festivals included Bluesfest London, Ealing Blues Festival and Cambridge Rock Festival.
Back in May, Jason said the decision to make the 2014 festival the last had not been taken for financial reasons - it has not been grant funded, for example - and they had also always been prepared to surmount obstacles they might come across along the way, such as removal of promotional banners. Rather the main organising team of four had felt they had achieved their aims, and wanted to bow out with the festival at its height.