New festival to pay tribute to legendary Gloucestershire farmer Eric Freeman

Eric Freeman
Eric Freeman in 2017 -Credit:Eden Tanner

A festival of Gloucestershire life and rural traditions is being held to celebrate the legendary farmer, conservationist and broadcaster, Eric Freeman. The one-day country show on Saturday, May 11 will include heavy horses, Cotswold sheep shearing, a parade of Gloucester cattle, Tug of War competitions, a steam engine and horse drawn wagon rides.

Live music will feature with more than a dozen groups and singers performing throughout the day. The event at Redmarley near Newent is a fitting tribute to Eric who was famous for championing the Gloucestershire landscape, heritage crafts and country customs.

His son, Clifford Freeman, says everyone who loves the countryside is welcome: "The Eric Festival will be a showcase of his passions and pursuits – from rare breeds and Morris dancing to the Forest poets and old-fashioned farmhouse cider, it’s all the things he cherished. We’ll honour his heart-felt determination to preserve the best of rural Gloucestershire so that the old ways, the traditional skills and the local dialect could be passed on to the next generation."

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When Eric died last year aged 91, the outpouring of affection for him was so great that the Freeman family vowed to stage a memorial event in the same spirit as his famous farmyard gatherings for Harvest Home.

Born in Newent in 1932, Eric Freeman was one of the founders of the British rare breeds movement, a great champion of Cotswold sheep, Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs and his beloved Gloucester cattle which he helped save from extinction more than 50 years ago. He revived old traditions such as Wassail and Harvest Home, promoted Gloucestershire fruit varieties and was a much-loved broadcaster well known for his tales of farming life and local folklore on BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Country Matters and later on BBC Radio 4.

He was a founder member of the Newent Young Farmers Club, a Council Member of the Three Counties Agricultural Society and in 2013 Prince Charles presented him with a lifetime achievement award. Tickets for The Eric Festival are available on the gate priced at £10 (adults), £20 (family) and £5 (students).

It takes place at Everes’s Farm, Chapel Lane, Redmarley, Gloucestershire GL19 3JF, on Saturday, May 11 from noon till late.