To celebrate the 18th anniversary of the now infamous Wedmore Real Ale Festival, I sat down with one of its founders, Trevor Prideaux, on his birthday, to find out a little more about the event’s history and what’s involved in running it every year.
How did the WRAF all begin?
Formed in 2001, the Real Ale Festival was the brainchild of a group of six friends- now eight-inspired by the enjoyment of good quality ales, bringing the local (and not so local) communities together, and raising money for many local beneficiaries. Catapulted into action on Trevor’s 40th birthday, the group are now celebrating the festival’s 18th successful year in Wedmore.
The history of the ales
What started in 2001 as a humble quantity of ten ales, the festival has grown exponentially to become a host to over 65 ales (that’s 5000 pints!) and 23 ciders. Not just local ales, they are specially selected from far and wide across the UK to earn the favour of the ale-experienced revellers in Wedmore. Of course, wine and prosecco are on offer throughout the weekend for those who don’t fancy drinking pints! Trevor explains how Dave Stone is in charge of choosing the booze, disclosing that “If it’s really bad, it’s Dave’s fault”. The staple feature of the hog roast on Friday and Saturday will no doubt help with soaking up the hand-selected ales!
The WRAF team
While the festival boasts eight core members of its team- Trevor, Dave, Chaz, Tom, Mike, Amanda, Allan and James- it takes numerous volunteers to help set up (and take down) the festival each year. Of course, it is all helped along by the many local companies who sponsor a barrel of all important ale each year.
With over £168,000 raised in the festival’s seventeen years, and an astonishing £17,500 raised in 2017 for local beneficiaries, drinking ale has never been more fruitful. The festival’s numerous events, including the infamous (and rather wet) Beer Bucket Challenge and the Raffle with generous donations, are brilliant ways to get involved and help with raising even more money. With 2017 being the most successful year to date, there are high hopes that 2018 will be even more prosperous in raising money for local causes.
While the festival has become a brilliant opportunity for the local community to relax and come together over a few beers, there are people that come from further afield to enjoy the huge selections of ale. Trevor explains that this year, there will be 27 people from Finland attending the festival on Saturday, coming especially to enjoy all Wedmore has to offer and no doubt adorned in their London tube themed outfits.
Lastly, what is your favourite ale this year?
Without much hesitation, Trevor announces that his favourite tipple of this year’s festival is Crop Circle, from Hop Back Brewery in Wiltshire, and if you don’t fancy that, there are 64 other ales to choose from!
Elena Laing, 21st September 2018