James Blunt will be “pitch perfect” at the Wickham Festival thanks to a unique way of beating the mud.
Recent downpours have made the site soft under foot but organisers will be putting down an artificial hockey pitch to give the 7,000 fans a firm footing.
It has come from Southampton Sports Centre which has just replaced its all-weather surfaces and that has proved a timely bonus for the festival.
We must be the first festival ever to put down a hockey pitch for fans. Instead of getting wet and muddy feet, our festival-goers will now have the most luxurious ground surface of any festival in the UK.
It will also be used backstage to help the likes of James Blunt and our other headliners the Lightning Seeds, Steve Earle and the Dukes plus Bellowhead.
The rain has made the ground quite soggy in places and we were preparing to put down straw when I got the offer of the hockey pitch.
The annual Wickham horse fair takes place in Hampshire today. The historic event includes a funfair and parade of horses in the Square. Around 2,000 travellers are expected to attend, with drivers being warned to expect heavy traffic in the area.
It's the biggest and oldest horse fair in the country, with its origin traced back over hundreds of years.
Last year's event was marred by violent scenes but the Police, Winchester City Council, Hampshire County Council, Wickham Parish Council and other agencies are working together to ensure that the fair is enjoyable and takes place with minimum disruption.
Up to 20,000 festival-goers will descend on a Hampshire village over the next four days. Because of the sunny weather, the Wickham Festival near Fareham has seen a last minute demand for tickets. Rolf Harris, the Waterboys and 10cc are headlining. The event ends on Sunday.
Wickham Horse Fair takes place today. The annual event which traditionally takes place on the 20th May dates back to the 13th Century. A small funfair is set up in the village square and horses are paraded through the streets.
The Wickham horse fair will take place in The Square on Monday 20, May where horses are bought and sold.
The fair is traditionally run by members of the travelling community who come from across the the country to trade the animals and parade them.
Hampshire Police has warned of the possible traffic disruption that will see several roads in Wickham closed from 5am until 8pm due to crowds and horses.
Permits have been given to residents to allow them to get to their homes through the closures.
Chief Inspector Andy Houghton said: "This event is steeped in history for Wickham and we have been working closely with Hampshire County Council, Winchester City Council, Wickham Parish Council and other agencies to help maintain a safe environment for visitors and residents to enjoy the day."