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Rainford’s Picnic In The Park is bringing a 90s icon to Merseyside this June

2 years ago

Rainford’s Picnic In The Park is bringing a 90s icon to Merseyside this June

It’s not quite Glastonbury, but there’s a Merseyside music festival that’s fast becoming a go-to event.

Rainford’s picnic in the park is five times the size it was when it started in 2017, and this year it looks like being another sell out.

“We had 500 people at that first event, and this year we’re hoping to have 2,500,” says organiser and co-founder, Phil Thomas. “It’s about as big as it can get as we are now.

“Picnic in the park is becoming a great family festival, with people attending not just from the village or Merseyside, but from as far afield as the south. 

“And on the day, the atmosphere is just electric. It’s magical.”

Rainford's Picnic In The Park

Eighties’ pop legend Chesney Hawkes is headlining the event for 2022, and seven other bands will appear including tribute acts, dance and country performers and, even, local singer and musician, Bradley Johnson.

It costs thousands to put on and it was a huge risk when Phil and the picnic in the park team first decided to launch the event which has welcomed former Liberty-X and The Voice singer Kevin Simm, original Status Quo drummer John Coghlan, Carol Decker from T’Pau and The Jam’s Bruce Foxton onto its stage.

But it’s a risk which has really paid off.

Festival fan Phil, 50, owner of PT Kitchens in Rainford, has always been involved in village activities and was a former manager of Rainford Rangers Junior FC.

He explains: “For years I’d raised money to get new football pitches and other things, and when my career finished as manager I decided to try and raise money for other sporting clubs in the village. 

Rainford's Picnic In The Park

“I went to another local festival, Orrell Live, and I got the idea from that. I thought we could do something similar. 

“Then I bumped into Phil Lancaster from the Boys Brigade who wanted to set up a music festival in the village, we collaborated and here we are.

“It is a massive undertaking, and it was a hell of a risk, but I was always confident it could happen.”

Over the last few year funds from picnic in the park have supported Rainford Rangers JFC, the village cricket club, tennis club and 1st Rainford Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Association.

“Without help we wouldn’t have these amazing facilities and clubs in the village, so for me it was a no-brainer. I have always fund-raised, it’s something I love doing, and picnic in the park is a huge achievement.

Rainford's Picnic In The Park

“I have just about got over getting tears in my eyes at the end of the events. But it’s massive.”

Rainford picnic in the park will take place on Saturday, June 11 this year and tickets are £25. As well as the acts, there are craft and trade stalls, Silcock’s Funfair, and food and drink for sale. (Although, unlike other festivals, you are allowed to bring your own food,” adds Phil).

“I do have to pinch myself when I think about how well it’s gone. We could only have 2,000 last year, but we still managed to get a festival on!

“Rainford is a traditional village and it’s typical of it that we can set up and support something like this. We have Walking Day and now this is another date for the diary that people look forward.

“It just shows what can happen when a community pulls together. It’s a real team effort.”

Rainford's Picnic In The Park

Phil hasn’t got another record on the cards for this year – in 2019 406 festivalgoers broke the Guinness World Record for the most people doing the sit-down dance to Oops Upside Your Head and it still stands today – but, after Covid and restrictions, it’s enough to be able to put the event on again.

And he can promise a ‘fantastic’ day: “Last year was special, but this year everyone is ready for a party!”

So why Chesney Hawkes for 2022? “On the rewind festivals, he’s just the best,” says Phil.

“And he is ‘the only and only’!”

Book tickets for Rainford’s Picnic In The Park here.

By Janet Tansley

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