Behind the scenes at the Deer Shed Festival

rip   Deer Shed Festival organisers Kate Webster-Jones and Oliver Jones.  (110705M2a)
rip Deer Shed Festival organisers Kate Webster-Jones and Oliver Jones. (110705M2a)

WHEN a wedding guest presented Tim Webster with 90 acres of farmland in the 1970s they could have no idea what the land was to become.

More than 30 years later the fields between Baldersby St James and Topcliffe are home to one of Yorkshire’s most newest family festivals, thanks to Mr Webster’s daughter and son-in-law.

Last summer Kate Webster-Jones and her husband, Oliver Jones, launched the Deer Shed Festival – named after the traditional open-sided stone built deer shed that occupies the site.

In a week’s time, the second ever Deer Shed Festival will take place at Baldersby Park and will welcome artists including Manchester’s I Am Kloot and Caitlin Rose, as well as cabaret, comedy, children’s entertainment and workshops.

After years of attending and being disappointed by expensive festivals with little to entertain their three children, the couple decided to take matters into their own hands and set up their own perfect family festival.

Their choice of location was obvious, Kate said.

“My dad has always thought this was a super spot for a concert and has always wanted to do something here.”

In its second incarnation the festival has grown massively – going from a single day in 2010 to three days this year.

As preparations begin at the site the deer shed itself is home to dozens of second hand sofas – left over from last year’s festival – with more on the way thanks to regular pilgrimages to Thirsk auction mart.

They want to make sure visitors leave Baldersby feeling relaxed rather than wrung out by their weekend, they said, so have decided that the third day will be a Lazy Sunday with the festival’s big top transformed into a vast living room filled with sofas, newspapers, coffee and chill-out music.

After growing up in the area Kate moved away for 15 years, living in London and working in music management and administration.

The friends and contacts she made then have proved invaluable for the Deer Shed.

“A good friend of mine is a music manager and helped with the black art of booking bands,” Kate said.

Between Kate’s skills in music management, husband Oliver’s web development business, and friends pitching in they managed to pull-off most of the last year’s festival without any outside help.

“There’s a lot of stress doing something like this, so if you can do some of the work yourself it helps,” Oliver said.

“All Kate’s old college friends are now big music agents and those contacts are coming in handy.”

After a very “home-made” approach to last year’s event Oliver and Kate have broadened their ambitions this year.

“We have scaled things up. Last year we ran the bar ourselves and a chef friend did all the food but this year we have outside companies coming in,” Oliver said.“Friends who helped out have turned into paid employees.”

Kate added: “But we’ve tried to use local companies, and as we grow we hope we’ll be able to continue that.”

Last year Oliver, Kate and friends did so much of the day-to-day running themselves that they didn’t have a moment spare to watch any of the bands they had booked. This year, Kate hopes she will be able to find time to enjoy the music and the atmosphere they have created.

For Oliver, after the hard work of putting such an event on, the moment he is most looking forward to is “when the last person has taken their tent down and gone home.”

• The Deer Shed Festival takes place from Friday, July 22 to Sunday, July 24. For more information visit the website