In part one of our Boomtown Fair preview series the boss of the UK’s most hell for leather festival talks to James Duke-Evans ahead of this year’s event.

Against a backdrop of uncertain times for UK festivals, with some going to the wall and more still compromising their spirit and content to survive, Boomtown Fair is bucking the trend and thriving. As Boomtown 2012 approaches, we’ll be speaking to the organizers, artists, environment sculptors and party-starters to find out why Boomtown is such a favourite. First up: co-founder Lak Mitchell:

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Your alarm clock goes off. It’s the morning of August the 9th and festival gates open at midday. What’s the first thing that goes through your head?

Thank fuck for that!

You’ve been doing this since 2006, what are the main differences and similarities between the first Boomtown and the rippling, muscular beastie that Boomtown 2012 promises to be?

Differences apart from the obvious size increase, I would say its much more diverse both in the audience it attracts and the spectrum of music genres now covered, however the festivals backbone is still very much party ska.  

My first impression of Boomtown 2011 was how unpretentious it is – the crowd is there to get on it and party not pose. What do you think of the crowd you’ve attracted?

The crowd are mental! They are the icing on the cake for us. Every year we have thousands of requests from them to get involved in anyway humanly possible- believe me we have had some very strange requests, but yeah they all really just want to be involved and push it to the limits.   

We’re asking your artists what attracted them to the festival, but what attracts you to a potential Boomtown act?

We spend every spare second researching artists and the bottom line for us is simply that they’re fun! I’m really looking forward to seeing Gadjo – an amazing gypsy band from Barcelona, also Bison – hoof stomping ska from Sheffield, they’ve specially reformed for Boomtown. Tanya Stephens is performing at what will be her first ever UK festival experience. Alborosie, as he is probably the biggest reggae act in the world at the moment and although you will not find out until they actually go on, our secret headline act is without a doubt the most legendary act to ever grace our stages.

You’ve got Arcadia landing this year, and some brand new areas. Looks like Boomtown is thriving, tell us more!

Arcadia and Boomtown are very close companies, we work together on loads of projects and have done for years, however Boomtown has never been in the position to take on the full Spider show without it leaving the rest of the festival hanging out to dry….until now that is! Although the stage is going to be big they are also spreading all over the site with lightning shows, mushroom bombs and mutated vehicle stages…be prepared! We also have around fifteen totally bonkers new venues, one being Bearded Kitten – who are clearly the silliest festival crew in the world, hosting The Boomtown bank in May-fair Avenue – a large outdoor arena of madness , we have a wicked new live reggae stage deep in the woods, moving churches, mock funerals, bubble water slides. To be honest I could go on forever but you just gunna have to see for yourself.  

That’s a lot to put together and oversee – what on earth possesses you to do this year after year?

We have an absolutely amazing crew of total lunatics behind us which really make all these outrageous ideas a reality. Believe it or not it actually gets easier and easier. 

And so the big final question: what’s your favourite spot on the festival site to spend a spare minute and what drink is in your hand when you’re there?

For me its the Oldtown Theatre hosted by the Invisble Circus, The line-up of flat out ska, gypsy and swing is so solid every year I would love just to move into that venue for good. 

Drink wise – any form of decent cider is fine by me!

Boomtown Fair is held at a secret Southern England location from 9th-12th of August.

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