Former BBC Radio Devon presenter to be remembered at Dartmoor Folk Festival

By Crediton Courier Newspaper   |   Editorial   |
Friday 21st July 2017 5:32 am
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Tony Beard, the Wag from Widecombe, will be remembered at this year’s Dartmoor Folk Festival. AQ 8297

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by Alan Quick

TONY Beard, a former favourite BBC Radio Devon presenter and highly-regarded entertainer, will be remembered at this year’s Dartmoor Folk Festival, which will take place at South Zeal near Okehampton from Friday to Sunday, August 11, 12 and 13.

Tony was affectionately known as "The Wag from Widecombe" and was the compere of the Dartmoor Folk Festival’s Sunday evening Music Hall for more than 35 years.

Tony sadly passed away in January 2016, aged 79, after bravely battling cancer.

Wendy Beard, Tony’s widow, will open the Dartmoor Fayre on the Saturday afternoon of the festival (2pm), in the presence of the Mayor of West Devon to honour Tony.

Tony was bestowed the same honour jointly with Anthony Gibson, then South West NFU director, the year after the foot and mouth epidemic which struck the country in 2001.

In addition, Tony and Wendy’s grandchildren, Oliver, Edward, Heather and Jeremy will appear in the Music Hall performing, along with other tunes, "Blackbird", which they played at Tony’s memorial service at Exeter Cathedral in January this year.


To celebrate the 40th anniversary of this year’s Dartmoor Folk Festival, there will be an historical display marking the history of the annual event.

It was 40 years ago that the festival was founded by the late Bob Cann, who lived in the parish of South Zeal.  He had the dream of a folk event on his doorstep that would help to revive and preserve the music, song and dance traditions of Dartmoor.

Thanks to the efforts of Bob Cann, his family and friends, and lately his descendants and a strong committee, with the support of an army of volunteer stewards, the festival has grown into one of the top family-friendly folk events in the South West.

This year it will include a packed programme of events and activities suitable for all ages, including a hugely successful children’s festival which will run alongside the main event.

There will be concerts, a ceilidh, craft displays, dances, dance displays, ferret racing, a music hall, pub sessions and music, song and dance workshops and competitions.

Free events include a starter’s song session, a folk club, a ramble on Dartmoor, a church service and a youth music session.


A rich crop of local and national artists will take part during the weekend, and there will be a return for many of the favourite artists who have attended previous festivals.

Guests will include Fay Hield and The Hurricane Party (Friday), Rob Heron and The Tea Pad Orchestra (Saturday and Sunday), The Jim Causley Trio (Saturday - solo, Sunday - Trio), The Siobhan Miller Trio (Saturday and Sunday), Jackie Oates (Saturday - Band, Sunday - solo and with Chris Foster), Gadarene (Sunday), Keith Donnelly, Phil Beer (Saturday), Geoff Lakeman (Sunday), The Valiant Dance Band (Friday), The Okelele Band (Sunday evening Overture), Ramsley Minors (Sunday) and the Dartmoor Pixie Band (Saturday and Sunday).

Dance teams will include Bampton Traditional Morris, Mayflower Morris, Hook Eagle Morris, Cogs and Wheels and Tinners Morris.

Children’s Festival entertainment includes Entertainingly Different, Dan the Hat, Magic Martin (UK Family Entertainer of the Year 2017) and FurriFingers Puppet Theatre.


Hotly-contested competitions will include the Dartmoor Broom Dance championships and Dartmoor Stepdance championships.

Dartmoor Broom dancing involves dancing with a broom, or rather over a broom, and is for primary school-aged children.

The Dartmoor Step dance sees dancers step on a 15-inch square board showing the different steps to try and out step the previous dancer, until a final champion is decided upon.  Adult and junior champions will be selected.

Classes to teach both broom dancing and step dancing are held during the festival and anyone is eligible to take part.

The Dartmoor Fayre, from 2pm to 5pm on Saturday, August 12, will include an afternoon of family entertainment.  It is free for children and £4 for adults.  The Sunday afternoon programme of events, from 2pm to 4.30pm, is similarly priced and will also include a programme of entertainment.

The festival will also include a duck race, craft marquee, stalls and refreshments will be available.

A campsite operates (more than 200 pitches last year) and many people attend from across the UK.

For further details, including a full event listing and to book tickets, please visit the website: .

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