Written by Mark Stutt of Camperscape; Photos by Lauren Frost & Rick Goodwill
We couldn’t make the first Field of Dreams Aircooled VW Festival (FoD) in 2013, so we were very keen to get to this one, it being in the North saving hours on the motorway and that it’s organised by friend, Kate of Classic Volks, was a bonus!
We were also keen to get along as to be honest I’d fallen a bit out of love with VW shows, what were great events focusing on the cars became massive and expensive with traders selling hardly anything VW related or complete tat; the music on offer wasn’t to my tastes and the growth in popularity of T4s and T5s meant air-cooled vehicles were becoming a minority and I say this as someone lucky enough to own a Late Bay as well as a T4! Indeed, a group of friends and I started the Tynemouth Classic VW Rally a one day air-cooled show to counter this trend, and as it’s by the beach with the vibe and atmosphere we wanted and that we felt others did to, we’re onto our fifth one now. I knew anything that involving ClassicVolks.com would be top notch so early bird tickets were purchased, dates put on the calendar and time booked off work.
The great day arrived and we purred (our Late Bay, Gracie, having received a new exhaust!) through the Tyne Tunnel on the A19 and headed south. An hour and a half later, with more and more VWs appearing, we turned off the A19 (no need for maps or sat nav, 98 miles on the same road!) and into Escrick Park. Straight away one of the selling points of FoD became apparent when we were directed to the air-cooled only parking area! Although to be fair, the steward did have to ask if we were aircooled, so maybe a VW spotters guide should be included for the stewards! It easy to forget that not everyone is as obsessed with aircooled VWs as we are…
A short trundle over the fields, and a friendly chap guided us into our spot and that set the tone of all the stewards/organisers – friendly, helpful and approachable (no ‘hi-vis vest of power’ attitude here). Awning up, kettle on, camp chairs out and relax! We were pitched at the bottom of one row of aircooled VWs, a mix of Splits, Bays (Early and Lates) and a few T25s with a large area in front of us leading to the marquees and food and drink stalls, so a long walk to where things were happening certainly wasn’t going to be a problem.
Catching up with old friends and exploring the trade area took up the rest of Friday. The trade stand area itself is worth mentioning as it was the best one I’ve seen at a show; enough relevant, quality stands to offer a great choice (including three swap-meet stalls) but not too many that it overwhelmed the show. It’s positioning was ideal, being right by the main site in between the two camping areas and when the sun set the strings of light bulbs for illumination were a really nice touch.
I’ve mentioned there were two camping areas, one was air-cooled only and the other was for any VW or even (whisper it) the odd caravan… These gave people the choice to camp in the mixed area to be with friends who don’t own an air-cooled VW or, if they did, be part of the actual event, as it’s raison d’être! A busy week before FoD led to an early night on Friday but it was very pleasant listening to the excellent music of The Inspectors coming from the marquee and once that had ended a very good night’s sleep ensued.
Saturday started overcast but warm and the appearance overnight of the Rothfink crew from Cardiff. They’d brought the awesome “Rustbus” (drool…). Parked up with them for the Haul of Rust display was a beautiful patina’d Beetle, a couple of ‘Things’ and If you don’t know Rothfink (and why not?) they produce a natty line in clobber and some great photshoots of old Dubs, tattoos, bikes and anything else that catches the zeitgeist. They are a nice bunch too as I found chatting to Jason as our daughters caught some air on the bungee trampolines!
Saturday day was spent chatting with friends, tree climbing, lounging on the handy straw bales listening to some excellent acoustic music and observing Kev’s masterclass in MCing on the wireless mike! Next to the music marquee with it’s cool Beetle DJ booth was a chill-out tent with more straw bales and blankets in case the weather turned, thankfully it stayed dry, but it was a nice touch.
Due to tragic events at the Manchester Dogs Home the Canine Show n Shine was almost cancelled but people rallied round, volunteered and the show did go on! Bravo to all those who helped. All proceeds from the dog show were sent back to Manchester with Dogs N Dubs to be given to Manchester Dogs Home to help with the rebuild of the home.
Green Bay Café (a café housed in a Green Bay bus…) provided caffeine a converted DubBox trailer provided alcohol and lots of food stalls provided grub (the wood fired pizzas proving very popular with us!) and a very pleasant day was had by all.
The evening’s music kicked of with TEN79 playing some cover versions and their own songs had an early REM vibe with the headline act The Talks and their two-tone, ska, rap fusion going down a storm. The theme for this year’s FoD was ‘A day at the races’ and special mention to Steve (from Dubenhams.com), Honor, Gary and the rest for turning on the style.
To round off a most excellent day Kate had arranged for an exclusive showing of the VW bus film ‘Circle the Wagen’; the tale of a couple of young lads who bought a Late Bay bus off Ebay and decided to drive it from New York to Los Angeles! Needless to say things didn’t run (in every sense of the word) smoothly but along the way they made friends, learnt more than they could have bargained for about air-cooled engines and discovered the fantastic VW community that we all value.
The Show n Shine took place outside our awning door on the Sunday and there were some cracking vehicles, a Split Screen Beetle drawing a lot of attention and for me a gorgeous Karmann Ghia was the highlight as it was the double of my Uncle Johnny’s that sparked my interest in all things air-cooled and VW. Reggae was playing over the PA and everyone was kicking back and enjoying the show. Our daughter won the Hobby Horse race and I was persuaded/blackmailed in to entering the Men’s Hobby Horse race – the 1.20 from Escrick! I came last but special mention to the awesome home made horse and outfit from one of the Flat 4 Dubbers – outstanding!
We had to leave before the prizes for Show n Shine were given out, but I bet the judges had some tough decisions to make. All in all Field of Dreams 2014 was without doubt one of the best VW shows I’ve been to, the location was great, facilities spot-on, enough things to keep kids entertained, not too big, but with enough people and vehicles to create a special vibe that other shows just haven’t got. If you didn’t make it this year, make sure you get your tickets for 2015, it’ll be one of the best shows of the year, you heard it hear first.
Thanks Kate, and all the others who put this show on, you nailed it!
2015 dates are 11th – 13th September, tickets are available from midday on 27th October 2014 by going to the website