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Tim Turner - MFAB Marketing DirectorNow the dust has settled, and my brain is working again, it's time for a few thoughts on MFAB 2010 in the form of a daily diary.

Thursday June 17

This evening is when we put up the tents - not the big marquee, which is erected by the suppliers - but all the other ones. Usual small crew turns up; I've put my back out in the past week so can't lift, stretch or twist, which rules me out. Finance Director Laura finds me a suitable job: signing cheques ready for the weekend!

Friday June 18

Early afternoon, and we're almost ready to receive visitors. Stalls are going up (including the very important coffee stall) and it's beginning to look like a Festival. The sponsor's banner is up, and someone comments that the blue and white striped marquee now looks like a Tesco carrier bag. Unintentional, but apt! Michelle Martin arrives in the office with her signed contract, and we have a chat about how much we're looking forward to the weekend. A true 'folk and boater', Michelle is an excellent singer/songwriter and comes to the Festival on her canal boat from which she also sells her artworks. And she's an extremely nice person.

A rush of people picking up tickets and wristbands, and all too soon it's time for the opening concert, which begins in storming style with a great set from Stan's Magic Foot. Then the madcap antics - and great music - of the London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra who get Town Mayor Mike Parsons up on stage, dress him in Hawaiian shirt and grass skirt and sing him a song. In between the bands I try to attract Keith Donnelly's attention to get him to announce the raffle and find myself part of his act for the next few minutes. Should have known better!

Back's holding up OK, but when I get home it's an hour before I can take my shoes off.

Saturday June 19

Couldn't move when I woke up this morning, but after a 'where are you?' text from Laura manage to get down to the office to meet the charming Japanese lady who is there with her crew filming canal activity for Japanese television. The whole site seems to be buzzing, and there are people everywhere. Laura says one of Middlewich's cash machines has already run out of money and she needs to find one later. I don't need any money until tomorrow but decide to get some today in case any more machines run out. Having found one I ring Laura to tell her and she asks me to get her some money too. My bank will think I'm acting very strangely getting two lots of money out within five minutes!

Afternoon concert, with Nigel Beck, Nicol and Cool, and the amazing Mabon, goes down a storm. Mabon's drummer, Iolo Whelan, asks the audience for a round of applause for the Festival organisers for staging such a great event. Very nice of him, and much appreciated. 

The evening provides almost too much choice, but then it depends what you like. And once again I wish I could be in more than one place at a time. The first-ever Comedy Showcase kicks off at the British Legion with Dom Collins and Keith Donnelly and apparently goes down pretty well. Might do it again next year then.

In the Civic Hall the Ceilidh, with Festival favourites All Blacked Up and guest caller Fee Lock sounds to be going down well for those who still have some energy, while in the marquee Queensberry Rules, Tom Palmer and Show of Hands with Miranda Sykes has sold out and the tent is packed. Stephen Dent, one of the many ex-organisers around, says the atmosphere is like it used to be years ago. A great compliment from someone who knows what he's talking about. A great night, and our thanks go to all the performers for making the place rock (if you can do that in a tent!).

When I eventually get home, I don't make the mistake of last night and this time take off my shoes the moment I get in. Much easier.

Sunday June 20

Back still holding up - just. Get down to the site as the service in the marquee is ending. Have a chat with the owner of the Chinese food stall, who says he loves the fact that everyone is so friendly. Tell him we don't allow unfriendly people in. Apparently you can hardly move on the towpaths and on the Salinae site, where Madcap are getting everyone dancing.

Afternoon concert another great one with Queensberry Rules (again; they insisted on doing two gigs!), Thom Kirkpatrick's amazing 21st Century one-man-band, and Little Johnny England playing as though they hadn't been away at all. Really enjoyed that one.

Then into the evening with a great set from Peter Knight's Gigspanner and a stomping performance from the Lonnie Donegan Band with Pete Donegan who close the Festival in an appropriately lively manner. Laura even manages to get me bopping, although without moving my feet! Chairman Julie makes a nice little speech thanking everyone for coming, and they all go home happy.

We stagger off to the Boar's Head for a couple of pints, where once again various musicians prove you can have three sessions going at once in the same pub! Dave Roberts - another ex-organiser - says he reckons it's been the best Festival for some years. Mike Parsons says that now he's not involved in organising it, he gets to see much more of the festival. I know what he means (about not seeing it, that is). I spend most of the time pressed against various walls (when I can find some spare space) trying to relieve my back before giving up and going home.

Monday June 21

Don't wake up until nearly 11, then down to the field to help clear up, take down tents, put things away etc. Julie's lost her phone somewhere, which explains why I couldn't contact her earlier. Do a lengthy phone interview with the local paper (gets me out of hard work anyway) and just as I've finished, something really spooky (but nice) happens. A voice from behind me says "I'd give you a hand but I've got to get going on my boat". I turn round to find Michelle Martin with another document for us. So she's both the first and last performer I see at the Festival. Couldn't think of anyone nicer to fill that role.

So that's it for another year. It's been a great event, I've had lots of great chats with performers, stall-holders and visitors. Met up with old friends and made some new ones - which is what festivals are all about. Didn't manage - as usual - to hear anything on the Fringe but it all seems to have gone well.

Helen, who sorts out the stalls, has just taken over the cafe at Boosey's Garden Centre in the town, so I, my wife Diana and Boat Festival Director Kate pop down there for a restorative cup of tea and a bacon bap (best ones in Middlewich).

So that's it for another year. Hope you enjoyed it too, and we'll see you all in 2011 for the 21st Anniversary.

Tim Turner

Marketing Director