Summerfest proves big success for all involved

Kool Aid Acid Test perform at Summerfest 2017
Kool Aid Acid Test perform at Summerfest 2017

The first free music festival for 16 to 25-year-olds with additional needs was hailed a success despite the downpours.

Summerfest 2017, held last Wednesday, featured live music, entertainment and a barbecue at Lodge Hill, near Pulborough.

A mother and carer from Billingshurst said she arrived with a highly anxious daughter and left with a really happy and excited young adult, who had been treated as such.

Jenny Heredge, whose 23-year-old daughter Immy has autism, social communication disorder and extreme anxiety disorder, said: “Did it rain? We were all too busy having fun.

“Summerfest was the most brilliant experience, not just for Immy but for so many young adults who simply aren’t normally given the opportunity to experience anything like this.

“It is all too easy for those people catering for young adults with disabilities to inadvertently patronise them. Summerfest certainly didn’t.

“It gave these young people a real experience of a music festival in a safe yet exciting environment. The music was loud enough to create the right atmosphere, yet sensitive to the fact that extreme volume might have increased anxiety in some.

“It was a truly memorable experience for so many. When asked Immy’s opinion of the evening, she said she loved it and asked ‘can we go again tomorrow?’”

SummerFest 2017 was a collaboration between Lodge Hill, West Sussex County Council and Amaze.

It featured a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers including two DJs, a five piece band, a beatboxer and a six piece funk soul combo.

There were also temporary tattoos, juggling, bubblepop, a photo booth, and last minute emergency waterproof ponchos for everyone.

Lucy Keeffe, mother of 18-year-old Joshua Keeffe-Magan with Down’s Syndrome, said: “It was great for Josh to meet his mates and dance and party without being ‘stalked’ by his mum.”