In many respects, Bloodstock Open Air is one big family reunion. The great success of this year’s event in the picturesque Derbyshire setting of Catton Park in Walton on Trent portrayed once again why the gathering continues to enhance its reputation for being the United Kingdom’s largest dedicated heavy metal festival.
Founded and organised by the Gregory family, Bloodstock plays host to a ‘metal family’ of 15,000 fans in tandem with a Showsec family of staff who have become familiar faces at the festival due to their enjoyment of the working experience.
As well as the heavy metal band line-up – headlined this year by Within Temptation, Trivium and Rob Zombie – one of the other big attractions was an art exhibition featuring the work of the festival’s co-founder, Paul Raymond Gregory. This included Gregory’s work-in-progress dubbed ‘Mordor Festival’ which made another appearance in the RAM Gallery by the Main Stage, along with many other fantasy artwork pieces including a unique design of the festival’s popular logo.
The ‘Mordor Festival’ is inspired by Tolkien and has a unique frame, which now features the Showsec logo along with many other partners of Bloodstock Open Air.
“Our support of the art exhibition is a good example of how we’ve worked closely with the Gregory family to help develop the very unique and special festival community at Bloodstock Open Air,” explained Showsec’s operations executive Darren Evans, himself a heavy metal fan who used to attend the festival before he began working for the business.
“We have a great relationship with all who work at Bloodstock,” continued Evans. “Everyone knows everyone and this all adds to the success of the event. It’s like a big family gathering with a real sense of togetherness and community spirit which ensures the festival is enjoyed by all attendees. A large number of our staff really look forward to working at Bloodstock. So much so, in fact, that staff from as far afield as Wales are willing to travel to Catton Park to work there.”
Interaction with the fans
In praising the contribution of Showsec, Bloodstock director Adam Gregory cited an example of interaction with the fans which highlights the important role that’s played in creating such a good-natured and friendly atmosphere.
“Showsec provides a pivotal team to help with Bloodstock each year,” enthused Gregory. “The staff are friendly and welcoming to all while at the same time ensuring that the fans’ safety is their top priority throughout the festival. Bloodstock fans have embraced the Showsec team and consider them very much a part of the family.”
Gregory continued: “Walking through the crowds on the Saturday, I personally heard one of the fans asking a Showsec staff member for his name and he said: ‘Great to meet you’, which I thought was a really nice gesture. It goes to show exactly how the working relationship between Bloodstock and Showsec has grown. Showsec’s staff understand how to be in control without being aggressive in any way. We look forward to a continued partnership with the business.”
This was the 15th year that Bloodstock has been staged and, for the last six of those years, Showsec have been influential in developing the event’s special atmosphere.
Although some of the sights were pretty scary, including Predator, Zombies, Judge Dredd and a clown sporting a gas mask, you cannot fail to see that the environment is a huge metal family primarily there to ‘rock out’ and have fun.
Experienced team in the pit
One metal fan wrote on the festival’s Facebook page: “I love the Showsec personnel. They’re all really nice people, a lot of whom seemed to love the music as well. Maybe that’s why the same personnel seem to sign up for working at the event every year.”
While the good nature of its followers and the community spirit generate a special atmosphere, there’s nevertheless an important role for Showsec to fulfil in terms of ensuring Bloodstock is an enjoyable experience for all in attendance.
An important element of that operation is having an experienced pit team in place to manage the enthusiasm and sheer energy within the crowd.
For the fifth year in a row, Bloodstock partnered with the Teenage Cancer Trust. Since beginning that relationship in 2011, over £21,000 has been raised for the charity, with the money going to help the UK’s teenagers and young adults who have cancer.