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Bumper weekend for business as Mumford and Sons rock Lewes
Mumford and Sons rocked Lewes over the weekend with 43,000 turning up to watch the two-day festival.
Marcus Mumford and his band proved a massive hit, as rockers young and old danced until the early hours – and Bonfire Societies even organising an impromptu powder paint fight which quickly became a free for all. Anna Roberts reports.
Business boomed over the weekend in Lewes with pubs reporting excellent takings.
Lewes District Council leader James Page told The Argus that 43,000 came to Lewes over the weekend, bringing in an extra £4million for the economy.
He added he would love to host a similar event next year.
The boom-time was all thanks to the Gentlemen of the Road Tour which stopped off in Lewes on Friday and Saturday.
The festival took place at the Convent Field, bringing an unusual line-up to the usual sedate goings on at the Lewes Priory Cricket Club.
Mumford and Son’s banjo player ‘Country’ Winston Marshall revealed to a delighted crowd that the reason they chose to play in the county town of East Sussex was because their tour manager had been to the Lewes Bonfire.
He said: “I'd heard about the Bonfire celebrations and knew that the town knew how to hold a hoedown.”
The band also thanked Lewes for helping them to put on a show with “all their favourite bands” before inviting the performers on stage to play Fleetwood Mac's The Chain.
Rumoured to be among the crowd watching the band was Marcus Mumford’s wife, Carey Mulligan, star of The Great Gatsby.
One excited fan took to Twitter and said: “Tonight I (literally) rubbed shoulders with Carey Mulligan at Gentleman of the Road in Lewes.”
Other bands who took to the stage included Vampire Weekend, Mystery Jets and Brighton-based British Sea Power.
Steve Bick from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, was at the festival with his son Joshua, 16.
The 47-year-old, who got a Mumford and Sons themed tattoo while in Lewes, said: "Vampire Weekend were great, but I mainly came here to see Mumford and Sons - and Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros.
“This is my first time in Lewes and it's a beautiful town.
"I'd like to come back when there are not 20,000 people here."
Lee Sullivan, 28, from Slough, Berkshire, said: “There has been a great atmosphere here – I think the size is absolutely brilliant because sometimes the larger festivals are just too big.
"This is a lot more intimate."
Jane Francis, 40, from Lewes, was with her husband and two children at the festival on Saturday.
She said: “This just doesn't seem like Lewes – it's incredible to have such a fantastic event here.
“There has been a real buzz in the town and it makes me quite proud to live here.”
Alex France, 34, manager of The Pelham Arms pub in High Street, said it had been a busy weekend.
He said: “Friday night was a washout but Saturday lunchtime was really, really busy.
“I went for a wander into town and it was really packed.
“I imagine most places made a killing, it has been really nice.
“As good as Bonfire? Yes, but they are totally different.
“It brought a good vibe and they should make it an annual thing.”
Paul Bennett, 40, landlord of The Dorset in Malling Street, said: “There were a few pubs down by the site which were heaving.
“We have had really busy lunchtimes, a bit of a lull while the festival is on, but it is busy again in the evening.
“There has not been trouble. It is a very sedate, quiet crowd – very middle class.”
One shopkeeper, writing on a popular internet forum, said: “The Cliffe High Street no-car day was a tremendous success - much more room for the pubs and cafes to spill out onto the street, as well as the buskers.
“We would like it to become a regular Saturday only closure, it wouldn't work during the week due to the volume of deliveries and collections - The Cliffe is a real working street, after all.
“I am not normally complimentary about our elected leaders, but well done, Lewes District Council.”
Punters blast 'farcical' Friday queues
People complained about mammoth queues at Mumford and Sons – with Friday night being bemoaned as an “utter farce”.
Readers contacted The Argus and wrote on our website, www.theargus.co.uk, to criticise the organisation of the event.
John Palfrey said: “I got to the site about 6.20pm on Friday and finally got in around 8.45pm after some of the worst arrangements I have ever come across at any festival I have ever been to.
“There was one person checking individual tickets at the head of our queue.
“Two others were assigned to giving out wrist bands – oddly around 20 people doing security and bag checks.
“There was a crowd of around 20,000. What did they think was going to happen?
“I managed to get in to watch Vampire Weekend. I then had to cut that short to start the trek home – utter farce.”
Pauline Anderson added: “I love Mumford and Sons as do my husband and daughter. I was unable to attend but hubby and daughter have.
“They arrived on Friday at 7pm to utter chaos – two long queues to get in waiting to receive their wristbands, and only three people dealing with those people waiting. Some 90 minutes later they finally got entrance into the festival, having missed a lot of music.”
Jo Pettitt said: “The weather was perfect, the location was beautiful but initially it was a massive disappointment.
“The Friday night I spent most of my time queuing to get my wristband. We started queuing at 7.10pm and finally made it into the venue just before the final act came on at 9.30pm.
“The planning and organising of the event was unbelievable. To have two entrances for everyone to use was ridiculous. It put a really negative start to what was supposed to be an amazing weekend.
“After leaving Friday night behind me I set off for the Saturday line up. I forgot about Friday night after about ten minutes. There was very little queuing, apart from the toilets which is pretty standard at any festival.”
Meanwhile Lewes residents claimed that there was disruption in the streets – with one person reporting that a festival-goer went to the toilet on their doorstep.
Sussex Police said the festival passed relatively peacefully with no serious injuries.
No one from the festival had responded to The Argus’s requests for a comment at the time of going to press.
Mother claims her son was run over
A mother claimed her son had been run over by a Range Rover outside the festival – needing three hours emergency surgery.
The woman, named only as Annette, wrote on the site’s official website about the incident which she said took place on Friday evening.
Sussex Police were investigating on Sunday (July 21), but added they had not reports of the incident.
Annette wrote: “My son was at the Lewes festival last night but as he was leaving he was run over by a Man driving a Range Rover pulling a trailer with a generator in it who left him without stopping.
“He’s had three hours of surgery and won’t be able to walk for some time or play football for two to three years He’s also missed seeing all of Sunday’s music especially Mumford and Sons. Please be careful everyone.”
South East Coast Ambulance service did not answer its phones yesterday, despite The Argus calling multiple times.
Twitter praise for first-time festival
Thousands of people praised the festival on Twitter.
Lisa Kearley: It's been an utterly fantastic weekend in #Lewes with the #GOTR Stopover. Awesome music & incredible atmosphere. Don't want it to end!
Ian B: So I had this weird dream that Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend, Vaccines, British Sea Power all played on a cricket pitch in Lewes. #GOTR
Rosie Stribling: @MumfordAndSons rocked #GOTR tonight. What an amazing weekend, thank you. I even shed a tear it was so good. #Beautiful
Tom Foad: Had such a good time at the @MumfordAndSons @gotrstopover in Lewes! Amazing bands, amazing place! #GOTR
Nikkie Thorpe: Gentlemen of the Road, thank you for an AMAZING weekend #gotr #lewes
Katie Hawthorne: @DeapVally were incredible yesterday, absolute highlight of #gotr. Even my mum was impressed.
Gavin Hill: Probably the best night out in Lewes I will ever have #GOTR. Absolutely amazing. Legs like jelly from dancing so much :)
To see our picture gallery from the weekend Click here.
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