A Short History of the Newt Festival
So how did the Newt Beer & Music Festival get to become one of the biggest and best festivals in the whole of the South West of England?
The History from 1991 to 2016
In 1991 North Newton Community Primary School had no transport to take the pupils on day trips and visits to the local swimming pool and being a rural school this was causing serious problems. The school was offered the use of a mini-bus provided they were able to meet the running costs of the vehicle. But as there was no money available in the school budget to do this, the school was left in a bit of a dilemma. Three local people, with children at the school, decided to organise a beer festival to raise the necessary funds and from these very modest beginnings the Newt Festival was born.
As time went by the mini bus needed to be replaced and the Beer Festival Committee persuaded Somerset County Council to provide an interest-free loan to buy the school a brand new one. In 1996 the school was presented with a new vehicle, with the annual festival continuing to raise money to repay the loan and meet running costs.Up until 1999 the festival was run by parents with children at the school and other volunteers. The festival grew in popularity and the set-up costs inevitably grew with it. Its organisation needed to be placed on a more formal and business-like basis and on legal advice the Newt became a registered company limited by guarantee with profits being passed to the school for funding the minibus.
In 2000 it was decided to ask other local groups for help in running the event in return for a donation to their organisation. Assistance was given by a whole host of groups and organisations from the local area, including the local cricket team, pre-school group, and Rotary Club. As the festival has grown and grown other groups have joined as valued helpers, including several carnival clubs and local sports teams.
Local Community Support
The festival couldn’t survive without the support of the North Newton community. In the early years we were very grateful to have the support of local landowners including Roger, Brian and Trevor Sellick whose field was kindly donated for the use of the festival each year. Clarence and Jimmy Clatworthy also gave the use of their adjoining fields as a campsite for many years. Local businesses have also been very supportive. The transport company Langdons supply a large refrigerated lorry trailer, free of charge, each year to help us store the beer and cider. There are many other local individuals and organisations, too numerous to mention here, who provide much appreciated help. We are grateful to them all.
The Newt Festival Today
For many, the event has become an annual pilgrimage and devotees travel from all over the country and even from overseas to join in the family fun and proper party atmosphere. The Newt Beer & Music Festival is the largest of its kind in Somerset with over 100 Real Ales and Ciders on sale each year. Over the last ten years, cider has become ever more popular and now features heavily in our line-up behind the bar.
Great live music is played throughout the weekend with an average of 12 bands performing on stage in the main marquee. Every year we work hard to ensure that there is a range of music that suits every ear. From Pop to Punk and Rock ‘n’ Roll to Reggae we try to fit it all in. 2016 marked the 25th anniversary of The Newt and the event continues to go from strength to strength and remains a popular summer venue for many. Last year we welcomed more than 3,000 visitors to the event, many of whom made a weekend of it and enjoyed the camping facilities.
All surpluses generated by the Newt Beer & Music Festival continue to be passed on to North Newton Community Primary School and local groups who support the event. In 2016 we donated just over £11,000.00 to the groups. The bus is still running and the children enjoy many trips and activities all supported by funds donated by the Festival. Although as the school has become so popular, they are now running a second mini-bus.