http://www.digitaljournal.com/a-and-e/music/op-ed-balstock-music-festival-boasts-biggest-free-event-in-europe/article/403419

Op-Ed: Balstock music festival boasts biggest free event in Europe Special

Posted Sep 16, 2014 by Kev Hedges
Now into its 9th year, the Balstock music festival played host to more than 170 bands, acts and performers spread across 15 venues. Its success is based on a very simple formula that other festivals may do well to emulate.
Inside the Engine pub in Baldock. Balstock music festival   incorporated over 160 bands  in 15 venue...
Inside the Engine pub in Baldock. Balstock music festival , incorporated over 160 bands, in 15 venues, over 3 days.
At one point, during its inaugural year, the festival consisted of just a handful of bands playing in one pub on a Saturday afternoon. Now, the sleepy north Hertfordshire town of Baldock is the place where three days of live music, comedy acts, DJ's and solo performers entertain the masses in September in a town hall, across several pubs and out in the middle of the High Street.
Balstock 2014 is a charity event and none of the acts are paid for their time. However, the money saved by the organizers, by not paying the musicians, is used to go to charity - such as the Ups and Downs support group for parents with children that have Down Syndrome.
Balstock has already raised thousands of pounds for a variety of charities and each year a different one is selected. The simple formula of not paying any of the bands for their time is that everyone ends up as a winner: the bands enjoy free advertising and playing to packed audiences, the punters get free live music with a choice of 15 different stages or venues and the small businesses of Baldock make a killing selling home made cider, German bratwursts, pizzas, CDs and general band merchandise.
The chosen charity naturally benefits as Balstock grows and gets bigger year on year. Its a lesson that could have been learnt by the neighbouring town of Hitchin. It was here that another free music festival called Rhythms of the World was once hosted. It quickly became too big and too expensive to run as free festival, so organizers moved the event to the nearby Hitchin Priory and charge festival goers £15 ($25) for the pleasure of one afternoon in a muddy field.
Rhythms of the World also generates little benefit to small businesses and traders in Hitchin - in fact all pubs and restaurants were warned by ROTW organizers that they were not to use any form of promotional events that might be associated with the trademark that was exclusive to the event.
In contrast, Balstock works hand in hand with the entire town of Baldock and now looks set to become the festival of choice for music lovers across Hertfordshire and beyond.
John Altman (Nasty Nick from the soap opera Eastenders) made a guest appearance with the all-girl ro...
John Altman (Nasty Nick from the soap opera Eastenders) made a guest appearance with the all-girl rock outfit Joan ov Arc by performing the Undertones classic Teenage kicks.
Small businesses and traders lined the streets as did several music lovers in the small town of Bald...
Small businesses and traders lined the streets as did several music lovers in the small town of Baldock in Hertfordshire.
Traders selling locally-grown apples and pears and making a delicious cider at Balstock 2014.
Traders selling locally-grown apples and pears and making a delicious cider at Balstock 2014.
The all-female rock group Joan ov Arc
The all-female rock group Joan ov Arc