Organisers overwhelmed as return of Dereham Blues Festival proves a big hit
- Credit: Danielle Booden
The organisers of Dereham Blues Festival were over the moon after the musical extravaganza proved a big success on its return after two years away.
Venues across the town were packed with punters from Thursday to Sunday as thousands of blues enthusiasts descended on mid Norfolk.
A "bigger festival than ever before" had been promised in the build-up to the event, and it certainly delivered following a two-year, Covid-enforced absence.
Around 70 bands and artists played in 20 venues, with some, such as Darby's in Swanton Morley, getting involved for the first time.
Acts included headliners When Rivers Meet and Kyla Brox, who got proceedings off to a flying start on Wednesday (July 6) night.
Doreen Aitken, festival secretary, said the whole organising committee was delighted with the outcome after months of hard work.
"We wanted something that would raise everybody's spirits after Covid, and I think we did that," added Mrs Aitken.
"It was incredible to see so many happy, smiling faces.
- 1 £200m A47 dualling work to start next year after government grants go-ahead
- 2 'Gunshot' manhole cover repaired
- 3 Couple fined after string of thefts at Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores
- 4 'He's an amazing person' - David's cancer battle inspires fundraising
- 5 Fun day with match featuring Norwich City legends postponed due to heat
- 6 Drought declared in Norfolk
- 7 Dereham coach firm closes after more than 50 years in business
- 8 Delays ease on A47 near Dereham after four-vehicle crash
- 9 Weather warning as thunderstorms expected to hit Norfolk after heatwave
- 10 Meet the triathlete teen with Olympic dreams
"The festival has been tremendously missed. There were some people who were massively impacted by Covid, and this was a release for them.
"With something of this size we did of course have some teething problems, but just about every problem was solved one way or another."
It wasn't just fans who came from far and wide for the blues festival, but artists too.
Some travelled from as far afield as Ireland and Scotland to be involved, demonstrating just how much the event has grown since the inaugural edition in 2013.
Mrs Aitken said she was pleased to see so many young people enjoying a genre often stereotyped as being for "old timers".
She added: "There is this thought that blues is miserable and depressing, but it is about life in all its forms.
"You can see how much joy it brings to people."
She also reserved special praise for Ross Stewart, 18, who fronted the Ross Stewart Trio.
Mr Stewart attends jam sessions run by Norfolk Blues Society and is already making a name for himself.
"He absolutely blew everybody away," said Mrs Aitken. "It is like he has been performing for 50 years.
"It is amazing to see somebody so young with so much musical talent and maturity."