It was two years ago at Laverstoke that the very first CarFest – as dreamt up by Evans to be his ‘perfect family festival’ – became an amazing reality. They have provided unrivalled entertainment for more than a quarter of a million fans of all ages and, more importantly, raised millions of pounds for BBC Children in Need.
This year was no exception with more than £1.5m raised between CarFest South and North.
Following positive consultations with the local community, CarFest South 2014 enjoyed a slightly increased capacity at Laverstoke Park Farm.
Chris Evans said “It’s always really special to go back to Laverstoke as, in many ways, it’s the spiritual home of CarFest. ”
By popular demand Erasure headlined the Friday night and after Seasick Steve’s guest appearances last year he had his own official slot on the Saturday night, much to the crowd’s delight. Bellowhead and Toploader were on Saturday too with the Kaiser Chiefs headlining in an energetic set ending in Ricky Wilson and bassist, Simon Rix taking on the ice bucket challenge as spectactacular fireworks lit the skies.
Festival favourites Texas returned on the Sunday night along with The Feeling, 10cc, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, a surpise set by Dario G, and Jamie Cullum who closed the festival with a lively set culminating with the crowd on stage singing New York.
It was not all about music, there were the cars which took to the hillclimb:
Top drivers were on the track too. Mark Webber wowed the crowd with a fund-raising blast in a range-topping Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet and Bruno Senna did likewise behind the wheel of a Honda NSX once driven by his uncle Ayrton Senna.
Away from the rubber-burning Hill Climb, activities in the popular Showground included a mega Monster Truck display, motorcycle exploits from DR Stunts all the way from Australia and the Kangaroo Kid with his dazzling quad-bike stunt show.
Adding yet more smiles to faces of all ages, racing sheep were competing in the Lamb National while the low-flying Red Barrows and their wheel barrow spectacular were trying to impersonate the high-flying antics of the world famous RAF Red Arrows albeit at ground-level.
The Red Arrows themselves were in the skies above CarFest South on Saturday night as part of an amazing three-days of epic air displays. Their sunset display was breathtaking. The event also featured an RAF Chinook, an Abarth stunt plane, an RAF Tucano, O’Brien’s crazy pyrotechnic Flying Circus and The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which featured not one but two Lancaster Bombers as well as a Hurricane and Spitfire.
As a family festival, CarFest also had entertainments and discovery zones to inspire and excite those of all ages. For younger visitors there was Ball World serving up a host of different ball-based sports, Book World offering story-reading lessons in The Book Den and a host of different junior driving experiences on both two and four wheels.
Food also featured heavily with the Britain’s Best Pavilion supporting food and drink created by small producers from across the UK and of course top organic food from hosts Laverstoke Park.
Cakes V Pies returned for 2014 with cakes pipping pies to the post. A double layer chocolate and orange Pudsey cake made by 13 year old Sophie won the top prize but Hampshire’s Caymanas rum cakes were finalists.
There were some important appointments made this year. Nick Mason – the Pink Floyd drummer and renowned classic car collector was made CarFest’s official Life Chairman, Seasick Steve became Life President and James Martin became ‘Head of Everything Else that We’ve Forgotten’ – in Evans’ inimitable words!
Seasick Steve said: “I think it’s going to be fun but I’m going to do my best and keep my oath” – which he gave live on stage over a Jack Daniels bottle.
Jody Scheckter, who owns Laverstoke Park Farm said: “It seems to be better than ever – that’s what people are saying. It’s a little bit bigger, more things, it’s gone higher level. A lot of the car manufacturers have come out amazingly so obviously they take it as a serious event but still what I love about it really is the family atmosphere. I think that’s the most special thing about it.”
Chris Evans said: “We just love what we’ve created with CarFest. It’s so cool to see so many families out there getting involved and having such a brilliant party time – whether it’s watching all the fabulous cars, dancing along to all the fab bands or enjoying all the incredible sideshows. I’ve absolutely no idea what we’re going to do next year, but we keep raising the bar higher and higher, so I guess we’ll just have to do it all over again!”