Rockore: the Fife music festival bucking the trend and selling every ticket

It’s the “down to earth music festival with down to earth people” which has bucked the trend and sold out every ticket this summer - and doing so faster than ever.
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Rockore may not get the same share of the spotlight that falls on TRNSMT, Belladrum and Party At The Palace, but it has more than established itself as Fife’s main music festival - one that has bounced back after lockdown to a capacity crowd well ahead of its big day on Saturday, August 19 at Lochore Meadows.

All 4000 tickets were snapped up weeks ago, leaving the organisers, Benarty Action Group, to focus on building the site and getting everything in place for a day of live music which will include local bands, tribute acts plus Big Country and headliners, Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats.

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This year marks the fifth festival at the Meedies - “Rockore V” said Eddie Easson who chairs the group at its helm which is made up of local people staging an event which sits at the heart of their fundraising operations for the former mining community.

Bob Geldof brings his Boomtown Rats to Rockore for the 2023 festival  (Pic: Sebastian Reuter/Getty Images)Bob Geldof brings his Boomtown Rats to Rockore for the 2023 festival  (Pic: Sebastian Reuter/Getty Images)
Bob Geldof brings his Boomtown Rats to Rockore for the 2023 festival (Pic: Sebastian Reuter/Getty Images)

Those roots go back to the first Rockore in 2017 which was headlined by Fife legends Nazareth, Since then it has played host to Wet Wet Wet, Altered Images, The South, Bad Manners, and Hugh Cornwell from The Stranglers.

“It’s not rocket science,” said Eddie. “Things are hard for people right now, so look at the ticket prices we charge - £25 to see Bob Geldof and Big Country, and drink prices at £3.50 - and all the money raised goes back into the community, not the pockets of a promoter.”

While local folk have always supported Rockore - , the festival has caught the attention of music fans from far and wide. This year will see buses from Aberdeen. Newcastle and Manchester heading to The Meedies for a full day of live music.

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Geldof and the Rats remain a big draw for fans who grew up with them in the punk era. The line-up still features original members Pete Briquette on bass, and Simon Crowe on drums, with the charismatic figure of Sir Bob front of stage. Scottish music fans were also the first to champion the band ahead of its breakthrough album Tonic For The Troops in 1978 - the classic Rat Trap was one of three hit singles culled from it.

Fife legends Big Country are on the bill at this year's festival (Pic: Steve Gunn)Fife legends Big Country are on the bill at this year's festival (Pic: Steve Gunn)
Fife legends Big Country are on the bill at this year's festival (Pic: Steve Gunn)

For Big Country, Rockore is a gig on their own doorstep. The Fife-based band continues to tour more than 40 years since the release of their debut album The Crossing, and 2024 will also mark the 40th anniversary of their second album Steeltown, their only UK number one release, and considered by many fans to be their finest work.

The bill also includes renowned Scottish electronic dance music group QFX, tribute acts Just Jovi and Pretty As Pink, and it showcases Fife bands The Sunset Spirit, The Columbos and Deaf Monkey.

“There’s a huge amount of planning that goes into Rockore,” said Eddie. “We always look forward it.

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We’ve already started planning for next year and as soon as the bands we have signed are announced tickets will go in a flash.”The logistics of staging a festival are already well underway with teams ready to move on site and start building the staging and getting everything in place. The organisers oversee everything, rolling up their sleeves and making sure everything is good to go.

“There are 20 of us on the committee - all family and friends. Everyone knows us, we run the event ourselves, and bring in bar staff and volunteers who operate car parking and getting people in. We have a long tick list and we go through it to make sure everything is covered - we potter away.

“And as soon as it is over, we’re on site the next morning at 7:00am for the big clear up. We’ll have about 30 volunteers who go down the line with brushes and shovels and clear everything up. We’ll have the entire field cleaned by midday.”

With merchandising on sale in local shops expanding for 2023, the links between Lochore and Rockore remain integral to the event. Tickets are sold locally as well - it is as much a community event as a major music festival.

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The group which negotiates with Geldof also sorts out selection boxes at Christmas for local kids, and gets panto tickets into every set of young hands, and puts in the same work to run the annual summer gala, and a huge pipe band championship, and it is does it with no external funding or local authority support.

Indeed this year it had to fend off a Fife Council proposal to move it - and other local events including a major pipe band championship - to another field to make way for a £750,00 playpark plan. The local response was strong, and the bid was eventually blocked, but only after a fight.

Rockore and Lochore are inextricably linked - one of a number of Scottish music festivals that put their towns on the map and bring people in toi se eit and spend locally - and that is thanks to the work of the organising team which has helped to build its audience over the last eight years.

While politicians debated whether to shift the venue to make way for their own plans, Neale Hanvey, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, was in no doubt it should remain where it was.

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Before common sense prevailed, he said: “The Benarty community groups that have created and grown such high-profile and successful fundraising events like Rockore are an outstanding example of the strength and spirit of a community we should be celebrating, not jeopardising. In an area where deprivation is a continuing challenge, these clubs and community supports are essential.”

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