A quick reminder…it’s Oxjam tomorrow!

It’s the largest EVER festival in the five years we’ve been running it, taking in over 100 acts, 15 venues and 14 hours of fun. It’s an incredibly diverse line-up, and not all music: I’ll be running a two hour Spoken Word event in association with Nottingham City of Literature between 5-7pm at the White Lion. Do come along if you fancy some skilled words lobbed your way.

Last year, we raised the third largest amount of money out of the dozens of Oxjams across the UK…beating cities such as Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Bristol and Liverpool. Humble little Beeston, eh? But how?

Well, it’s you lot. We could put all the effort in the world into the festival, but it’s diddly squat without the support and generosity of Beestonians (and beyond!). You’re the ones who come and enjoy, sing, dance, get drunk, move from venue to venue and show that this town is vibrant and loves a party. The past festivals have all been held during the grim days of the tram works, where access was often appalling, but Beeston didn’t care: we sold out the last two Oxjams. Instead of retreating into living rooms or other towns when the diggers rolled in, we kicked against it all, feet clad in our best dancing shoes. The ranters, the moaners  – even our MP – chuntered on the sidelines, but we just got on with it, and we saw Beeston at it’s best.

Tomorrow, we’re doing it again, with the tram now working with us (they’re running a event deal for ticket-holders) rather than against us, and this is shaping up to be the first test of what Beeston is like now the works are over. We have more businesses participating than ever before: from the Victory Club to the Chequers; The Malt Shovel to Bartons; with loads in between.

Every penny raised goes towards a great cause, fighting poverty in the UK and abroad. We’ve been able to send over £30,000 directly to Oxjam since we started. But to me, as someone who loves his town to bits, it’s more than that. Oxjam is proof that this town is special: generous, vibrant, fun-loving and a real, strong community.

Now, go and get an early night. We have a big day tomorrow. Polish those dancing shoes and get to bed.

******* OXJAM TIPS *******

  1. Explore! The best bit about any festival is the potential for serendipity. We have more venues than ever, so check them out. Places you might not have been to before such as the Victory Club and the revamped Chequers are definitely worth a look (and we’ve stuck some great bands in them too). The Creative Corner is going in fully this year: there will be stuff on at the brilliant Fusion cafe right through. Good cake there too, which reminds me to remind you to….
  2. Eat! Don’t try and do it on an empty stomach, especially if you’re boozing. This year, we’ve got a heap of good food all round the town. In the day Greenhood, Rye, the Bean, and most pubs will happily sort you a cob, and in the evening you’re spoiled for choice. We particularly want to try the street-food stall that Edwards, that excellent eaterie on Wollaton Road, are putting up on Chilwell Road: perhaps the most gourmet festival food you’ll ever week. Over at The Crown, the legendary Johnny Pustzai will be bringing his Beedhams Barbeque over, featuring the gorgeous Oxjam sausage (part created by me: and fine for fellow pork shunners like myself: it’s beef). The White Lion will be living up to its reputation as an international hub with Sergio’s Brazilian tapas being served inside; and Hungarian street food available outside. All great value, but don’t forget to bring some…
  3. CASH! Yeah, now we sound like we’re mothering you. But it’s a common mistake to go down Chilwell Road -cashpoint free Chilwell Road – without holding folding: remember, not everywhere takes plastic. Be sure to load up on the paper stuff beforehand, and stick the rest in our collection buckets. Y’know, the bit you don’t spend on…
  4. DRINK! There is more booze through the festival than ever before. Pace yourself, obviously, but make sure you savour the vast variety of drink: including our first ever bespoke cocktail – the Oxtail? – available exclusively at the Chequers. Full of food and booze you’ll need a….
  5. GUIDE! You probably know Beeston pretty well, but it’s still worth grabbing the official line up guide which will be available all over, and a special issue of The Beestonian , which you can find floating around all venues (or grab a sneaky peek here. We also have a unique interactive app for your smartphone: this will give you constantly updated details on what’s on where, as well as lots of info and fun. You can even contribute yourself, if that’s your bag.

Have a great time: take tons of photos and send them over, don’t laugh if you see me dancing, and VIVA OXJAM!