Attendance at last week’s Rail Ale Beer and Music Festival was back to the pre-Covid pandemic year of 2019, said marketing manager Alexa Stott.
Alexa said: “After the last two years, it was just lovely to see everyone out having a good time and enjoying themselves.
"The music was amazing and so good that the crowds didn’t want to go home.
"Martin Kemp on Thursday night with his Eighties DJ set went down an absolute storm.
"Making their debut on Friday were Jungle Lion, a ska and reggae band who play Madness and Specials. Everybody was dancing and jumping up and down. When a band's gone down that well you'd be foolish not to consider the possibility of having them back. Highway Child, who appeared on Thursday supporting Martin Kemp, always go down well with the crowd – they have appeared at Real Ale for five years – so maybe Jungle Lion will become another staple like them.
"We had Everly Pregnant Brothers on Saturday, bringing everything to a fabulous close.”
With more than 400 beers to choose from, the lively crowd were kept well watered. Alexa said: “We still had 100 beers on at the close. There were craft keg chllled beers, cider, gin, prosecco. Lots of volunteers have done an amazing job behind the bars – we couldn’t do the festival without them.
“In the food court there were two new stalls, curry and kebabs, that went down really well.”
Bucket collections in aid of Ashgate Hospice were held throughout the three days.
Chesterfield nurse Joan Pons Laplana, dressed as a pint of beer helped out behind the bars, and raised £727 for the hospice. Alexa said: “He went straight from that on Saturday to the Manchester half-marathon on the Sunday. He’s doing the London Marathon as well and a TV crew are following him.
"We also had a team from East Midlands Railway raising money for the Railway Children charity, supporting vulnerable children abroad and in the UK. They raised several thousand pounds with the sale of things at the festival and are going to be doing the Three Peaks Walk later in June.”
The big airy roundhouse gave older people and families the confidence to return to the festival, taking visitor numbers back up to the level of 2019. Alexa said: “There is plenty of space so there are no issues or risks – everyone was safe. It was a busy, but comfortably busy, festival.”
She added: "I was reallly quite sad when it closed on Saturday - but we will be back next year, we've already got the dates in the diary - May 18, 19 and 20. There will be a party night, more beer, more amazing music and maybe even a few other surprises - watch this space.
"We had the festival in September last year because we couldn’t do in May. Someone has asked us if we wanted to do it twice a year. I don’t think we could cope with two in one year – it’s a big thing to put on and it takes a lot of hard work behind the scenes.”