Cambridge Strawberry Fair takes place on Midsummer Common in the centre of Cambridge and is not only the largest free festival in the country but is in it's 35th year. Run entirely by volunteers they accept no corporate sponsorship and yet still manage to put on several stages, a film tent and numerous other activities financed mainly through fringe events and benefit gigs in the weeks leading up to the event.

As I arrive on site mid afternoon I am completely blown away by how much the fair has grown in the eight years since I was last here, it's absolutely packed! The bright sunshine obviously has played a large part but it's also testament to a well organised event, this is a great day out, it's free and there's barely ever a whiff of trouble. Naturally there is the usual array of food stalls and ethnic crafts but the real magic here happens on the numerous stages that are dotted around the site. The main stage at the East end of the site features a host of bands throughout the day from the humorous punk of the Fanny Pads to the eclectic Tankus the Henge and goth rockers Rome Burns but also features some better known acts. Most notable of these this year is the outrageous Selfish Cunt, who are the only band I have ever seen forced to leave the stage at this event. This is mainly due to singer Martin Tomlinson goading the crowd, at one point the he even had the mic knocked out of his hand by a basketball! Hilarious and thoroughly entertaining. The stage is headlined by crusty dub legends RDF, who I last saw supporting the Damned in Cardiff back in '91! They get a real groove going and close out the day in style despite the fact that vocalist Chris Bowsher still hasn't learnt to sing in tune!

On the smaller stages there are some real gems with Carling festival favourites and ska exponents King Blues playing to a tightly packed (although very small) tent. Excellent all female rockers Joan ov Arc play a great set to a good crowd but there is something for everyone with a reggae stage, acoustic stage, futures stage and even a poetry/theatre stage.

We take a break from the sweltering heat to duck into the film tent, which is showing a series of short art films throughout the day. These range from the amusing to the downright bizarre including one 5 minute film of a lady opening & closing a pair of curtains at irregular intervals! It's a mixed bag but it's just another string to the festival's bow. Elsewhere there are chill out areas, family areas and kids entertainers. Strawberry Fair really keeps the spirit of the alternative free festival scene alive, it's just a great day out and the perfect remedy to the dozens of corporate events that seem to have lost sight of their original goal in favour of a quick buck. There's no camping on site but being in the heart of the City there are no shortage of places to stay. So take a punt on it next year and get a taste of what the original festival scene was all about, which is like minded people working together to have a good time.