Harvest at Jimmy's was one of Suffolk's best festivals

Stephen Foster Hairy Bikers Jimmy's Farm

Foz with The Hairy Bikers at Harvest At Jimmy’s in 2010. - Credit: BBC Radio Suffolk

Broadcaster Stephen Foster on the Harvest at Jimmy's festival, which was held at Jimmy's Farm on the outskirts of Ipswich.

As my waistline has revealed in recent years, I do love my food. I always have but the older I’ve become, the harder it’s been to resist temptation. I lay the blame fairly and squarely at all the wonderful local restaurants that keep enticing me in. I have the same problem with record shops. It’s as if there’s a magnet pulling me in and then once inside my resistance is lower than low. 

Imagine my delight when in 2010 BBC Radio Suffolk suggested I do an outside broadcast from the Harvest At Jimmy’s Festival at Wherstead near Ipswich. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. After all, what’s not to like about a weekend celebration of food and music? It really would have been rude to decline such a kind and thoughtful invitation.

With producer Alison Acton (now Southam) cracking the whip I was never going to be short of guests. Shy and retiring she is not and with numerous stars from the music and culinary worlds on site there was never a dull moment.

An early encounter of mine at Jimmy’s was with Dave Myers and Si King, better known as The Hairy Bikers. They were one of the most popular acts that year and Alison persuaded them to join me for a chat live on air. As I was introducing them I felt a wet sensation in my left ear. It was Si licking it!  Very strange behaviour but it certainly broke the ice.

Turin Brakes Harvest at Jimmy's

Turin Brakes unplugged at Harvest At Jimmy’s - Credit: BBC Radio Suffolk

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Other big names from the culinary world to guest on the show were Great British Bake Off star Mary Berry and Saturday Kitchen presenter James Martin. It was lovely chatting to them both but to be perfectly honest at that time I’d not seen their programmes. Somehow I managed to blag my way through both interviews. I often wonder if they realised I was busking it.

I was far more knowledgeable about the music side of Harvest At Jimmy’s so wasn’t at all phased by any of that. A young Ed Sheeran guested on air on the Sunday lunchtime and I sat next to him as he performed two of his songs and a Bob Dylan cover. It was crystal clear to us all that he had something very special and as we shook hands at the end I told him exactly that.

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Two of the more established acts a decade ago were The Feeling and Turin Brakes. I interviewed both groups before they hit the stage. I had an enlightening chat with Dan Gillespie Sells from The Feeling about who got to choose which singles are released from their albums. It emerged that my colleagues at BBC Radio 2 were hugely influential on that score which seemed to suggest to me that that the tail was wagging the dog.

stephen foster The Feeling Jimmy's Farm

Foz chats to pop band The Feeling at Harvest At Jimmy’s. - Credit: BBC Radio Suffolk

Turin Brakes performed a mini-set for broadcast. As ever, engineer David Butcher did a superb job. I have to say I could have done with him a few years later when the group came into BBC Radio Suffolk en route to a show at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds. David was off that day so it fell to me to mix the sound in the studio. It wasn’t quite up to David’s standards but I think I got away with it.

The Harvest At Jimmy’s festivals were always great fun and I seem to recall the weather was usually kind to us. Other acts there to have graced Suffolk’s airwaves include Scouting For Girls, KT Tunstall, Badly Drawn Boy and Reef.

Host Jimmy Doherty was always a good egg. One year he pulled my leg on air suggesting I might have had one too many beers prior to the programme. How very, very dare he! Afterwards maybe but never before. I was simply drunk on the atmosphere of what  was one of Suffolk’s very best festivals of that or any other era.

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