Dynamic duo behind award-winning Harpenden music festival

Steff Chandler and Mark Hill

Steff Chandler and Mark Hill - Credit: Archant

A retired policeman who helped organise concerts at Knebworth House and the son of legendary music impresario Chas Chandler are two of the mainstays behind Harpenden’s award-winning Festival on the Field.

The popular family-friendly event, which features some of the UK’s top musical tribute acts, is returning to the town for the third time on July 2.

Run by the school associations of Manland Primary School and Sir John Lawes secondary school, what is now the town’s largest and most successful outdoor musical event first came into being because of former police officer Mark Hill and Steff Chandler.

It was Harpenden-born-and-bred Mark who first had the idea of applying his experience of major event planning with Hertfordshire Constabulary to organising a show to raise funds for the schools.

Mark was part of the police team at the 2003 Robbie Williams Knebworth concert, which was attended by 125,000 people, and more recently at the Sonisphere events at the same venue.

Apart from doing his bit to keep everyone safe at those events, Mark’s fondest memory is being invited onstage to watch heavy rock outfit Metallica perform. He says: “I’d met some of the band in meetings with the promoter and they invited me as a special guest. I took the chief constable onstage with me too – and to this day he says that was one the highlights of his career!”

Another parent of children at Manland, Steff has been involved from the start and continues to be instrumental to Festival on the Field’s success. He is the son of Chas Chandler, who starred in 1960s band The Animals before discovering and managing iconic US guitarist Jimi Hendrix. He also managed Slade and helped build the entertainment venue Metro Radio Arena Newcastle.

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Steff also eventually got involved with the music industry and, among other things, managed the high-profile dance music DJ Tall Paul. He now negotiates commercial deals at major music festivals across the UK.

He says: “Mark told me his idea for a mini-music festival and asked if I could help through using my contacts. It’s a great cause, I find it really rewarding and I think we put on a really good show.”

Ticket sales so far for Festival on the Field are going well and local companies Jarvis Homes, John Curtis, Harpenden Smiles and the Herts Advertiser have all agreed to be sponsors.

Killer Queen will headline with Take This and Charlotte Hopley, performing as Taylor Swift, completing the tribute act line-up. The musical talents of students from both Sir John Lawes and Manland schools will also be on show.

There are plenty of activities planned away from the stage that will keep children of all ages happy (and their parents too).

Tickets can be purchased from the Festival on the Field website and you can get in touch with the festival organisers at festivalonthefield@gmail.com. Get the latest news via the Festival on the Field 2016 Facebook page, or follow on Twitter @FOTFHarpenden.