There was something quite surreal about lazing on the grass on a beautiful summer’s day (or should that read, the beautiful summer’s day?) watching legs dashing about in the space beneath the stage. Because they weren't the legs of roadies scurrying about but of baby or miniature goats, a fact explained by the venue of the Maverick Festival – Easton Farm Park in family-friendly Suffolk.
Even more bizarre was the fact that Clark Gable lookalike Bobby Valentino was crooning through Swinging With The Chickens with his band Los Pistoleros at the time. Though there were no chickens underfoot, there were real chicks rather than rock chicks in the hatchery, a gaggle of swaggering geese, and background soundtrack of horses’ neighs.
It was a strange mix – a collection of country and roots performers from both sides of the Atlantic at a festival organised by the young, hip country(ish) Maverick music magazine. But the kids loved it – not just ours but plenty of others, who could divide their time between watching elegantly tuneful music, eating burgers and chivvying goats. For youngsters, this type of music, seen at close quarters, is a lot less frightening than loud bands seen at a distance at many other festivals.
Easton Farm Park is a major family attraction in itself, and festival-goers are free to roam it at will. Apart from all the animals, there are woodland walks and a decent adventure playground, behind which is the charming field for festival campers. A barn is converted into a real-ale bar and a string of stalls sell burgers and sausages from local (but not resident) and often rare-breed animals.
And then there’s the music. There are two main stages, one open-air in the centre of the farmyard, the other in a rustic barn, with the music going on late into the evening. We lazed on the grass and watched British acts such as The Storys and Redlands Palomino Co, darted in and out of the barn and watched a pedal-steel masterclass by BJ Cole, a legendary musician who has toured with the Velvet Underground’s John Cale.
Seeing and hearing musicians up close put into perspective our children’s guitar and piano lessons. Henry started collecting autographs and is now probably the only eight-year-old to have the signature of Mark Olson, of hip US alt-country band The Jayhawks.
Check out our guide to the best family festivals around the UK.