There is a buzz in the air in Crickhowell as preparations are underway for the popular Green Man Festival at Glanusk Estate on 17-19th August. Director of the Festival, Fiona Stewart is a huge fan of Wales. She explains, “Wales is a very small and clever country. I have worked in the events industry all my life and think being in Wales is akin to that, you often end up doing something untoward in the middle of nowhere! And Wales also has the best looking men in the World,” she adds.
The energetic entrepreneur is also on the Creative Industry Panel for the Welsh Government, offers work experience to students from Merthyr Tydfil College, and tirelessly promotes Wales through the Welsh Tourist Board. The Bevan Foundation has also been chosen as Green Man Festival’s charity partner for 2012. She continues, “The Welsh people are charming and the country has a certain uniqueness. I discovered Wales through Festivals and many other people will be discovering Wales through the Green Man. 5% of visitors are from overseas.”
As well as promoting the countryside, Fiona enjoys getting out in it too. “I’m a great walker and during the Green Man, the whole crew regularly walk up the Sugar Loaf with our Jack Russell, Walter. If it’s warm enough we swim in the Usk; we’re very lucky, it’s such a beautiful place to work.”
“I have always appreciated being outdoors. When I was a child, we always had a veg patch as part of our garden and now my secret pleasure is making jam and ‘pickling’; I’m a great pickler. I’m currently looking for a good Ginger jam recipe if reader’s can help? I’ve got a lovely garden in London where I grow all my own herbs and I also grow lots of lavender. My grandmother is from Provence and always had lavender everywhere in her house . I buy honey from a lady who keeps bees in Camden Town, where we live. She has made me realise that some country pursuits are also possible in town. Although she does frighten the kids when she’s dressed in her bee-keepers outfit!”
“I think gardening can bring a lot of joy into kids lives too. As well as teaching awareness of the environment, it helps to develop skills like self management and responsibility.”
“At the Green Man, the 600 acre site includes Einstein’s Garden which is a fusion of science, art and nature, nestled between rose arbours and flower beds. And the Nature and Nurture area is the perfect pace to chill out. The surrounding landscape is so important for a Festival.”
Fiona’s sunny disposition makes it easy to forget that there are challenges when organising a Festival, she explains, “The weather has made it tricky for a lot of Festivals this year but fingers crossed we’ll be ok. Crickhowell is used to selling out of wellingtons,” she laughs. “All the shopkeepers are used to stocking up on everything before the Festival an being inundated with visitors. We are unique in offering a ‘Holiday Ticket’ which means you can go and holiday around Wales before coming to see us at The Green Man; it’s really popular. The station master at Abergavenny train station always gives me and the crew a great welcome and is delighted to have an influx of visitors to chat with.”
Find out more about the Festival www.greenman.net