Guilfest returned to Stoke Park for another year, and naturally so did we.

The reason we at R13, along with thousands of others, enjoy this festival so much, is partly down to the interesting mixture of bands the like of which is hard to find elsewhere in a festival calendar that is getting increasingly cluttered, but also thanks to the relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

As ever there was the usual mix of mainstream and classic acts that fit in well with the main stage sponsors Radio 2, as well as rock and metal bands given chance to experience a higher billing than they might at Download in the Rock Sound Cave.

This year's most noticeable trend was the amount of ska and reggae on show. Sunday's Radio 2 Stage line-up featured Dub Pistols with former Specials man Terry Hall, The Beat and Toots and the Matals, all building up to a headline set from Madness which was the perfect way to round off the festival.

The previous day reggae legend Jimmy Cliff was outstanding on the Main Stage, meanwhile King Blues, who fitted in nicely with this theme, were equally impressive in the Rock Sound Cave. Other stand out performances here across the weekend were Reuben, who were joined by R13 favourite Frank Turner for one song, the powerful heavy rock of Gu Medicine and the softer indie and high energy live show of SixNationState. The latter told us before their set that, on their way from Lama Tree that morning their driver had vomited all over the drummer while on the road...the fun and games of being in a band!

The other main stage headliners were Supergrass, who were excellent on day 1, what a belting singles band they are, and, following on from the reformed bunch of oldies from last year which saw A-Ha top the bill on Saturday, Squeeze headlined the middle day. They were better than the Norwegian pop act, which wasn't difficult, and turned in a performance that satisfied their big crowd of fans, but may have bored those waiting all night to hear 'Cool For Cats' get it's airing at the end.

Saturday also saw a rarity, certainly in my experience. The main stage was opened by an exceptionally long performance (which I only briefly dipped into) from the Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra: I do think more festivals should start their day with 'Land of Hope and Glory'.

One of the best things about festivals is discovering the unknown, and at Guilfest, thanks to the likes of the Surrey Advertiser Stage, there are more than enough chances to do this. Acts to catch our ears included the Kent-based rock act Where's Billy
Myspace page hereand the acoustic folk of Natasha Storm, who can be heard on Myspace
here. Both artists are currently unsigned and if we had anything to do with it that would change.

We also revisited 2006 find
Laura Colegateand caught the highly rated
Exit Tenan unsigned act who really could be massive.

Elsewhere it was noticeable that more of what might be described as "alternative buzz bands" were on this year's line up, with Ghosts, Dykeenies, Howling Bells and Charlotte Hatherley all appearing.

Due to the wide demographic this festival appeals to, the market side is as vast and varied as anywhere, with the exception of Glastonbury of course.

People, although most probably girls, could while away hours looking at clothes in tents. There was also a kids zone, apparently you have to be small to go on their bouncy castle, rubbish, healing tents and, what with this being Surrey and all that, a pimns bus. My first and last experience of this distinguished beverage told me that it's over rated and bland, and who wants cucumber in their drink anyway?

The food at Guilfest is, on the whole, excellent, although if you try hard you can still find an unsatisfactory burger. In true R13 style, where we rate things out of 13, the hog roast gets a score of 9 (nice but a bit dry) and the Vegetarian festival special curry gets a healthy 11 (our resident veggie says: gorgeous but we're in the 21st century, there's no need for soya chunks anymore!) But top marks goes to the milkshake stand with it's range that included mint aero and strawberry cheese cake, 12 out of 13!

So on the face of it all is rosy in the garden of Guildford, but that may not actually be the case. A check of the messageboard before the event would show discussions saying that the festival isn't making money, something that was confirmed to us by staff when we arrived.

There was also talk that they have struggled to book bands this year, although the likes of Supergrass, madness, Ordinary Boys, Magic Numbers and Morcheeba are all major draw acts that contradicts that suggestion.

Then there was the rumour that 2007 might be the last. Admittedly this was just crowd talk and they did say see you in 2008 at the end of the Sunday so they're clearly optimistic.

Regardless of how wide of the mark the rumour mill is, there's no hiding from the fact that Guilfest could be in a stronger position. You wonder how long the generosity of the financial backer will last. One way they could ensure more money comes in is by preventing people from bringing their own alcohol into the arena, as most others do. This wouldn't be a popular move, and might endanger the festival's family picnic appeal, but if things really get tricky it would be better to make a few hardnosed business decisions such as this than risk losing the event altogether. That said it's not a balancing act I would want to have to perform.

Guilfest may not be the biggest, or even dare I say perceived to be the coolest festival of the summer, but it's loved by such a wide range of people that here's hoping it rides out any difficulties it's having, then anyone who hasn't had the chance to check it out for themselves can keep the middle of July free and pay it a visit in 2008.