Tricia Meynell explains why Gelt Gifts is the perfect print partner for the Music on the Marr festival

Ten years ago, a marquee was put up on the village green, aka the Marr, for a Saturday wedding in the village of Castle Carrock, North Cumbria. Richard Johnstone decided that an empty marquee was a marvellous excuse to put on some music and so on the Sunday, the first ever Music on the Marr festival took place, with local band Tarras headlining. Over the past decade, the Music on the Marr festival has grown to nearly four days, beginning on a Thursday evening with a ‘money in the hat’ event so that anyone and everyone can come, explains Tricia Meynell, who organises the T-shirts and hoodies that are sold at the event. 

“We didn’t have a T-shirt for our first festival, but since then we have had them every year,” says Tricia. “For the first few years myself and my colleague Jenia Gorfunkel designed them, but although we are both artists (I’m a photographer and Jenia works with recycled glass), we are not designers! We decided in 2014 to launch a competition to come up with the design and the winner gets two festival tickets as a prize. We have had some good ones – never a huge amount, but you only need one good one to make it work.”

T-shirts are sold every year at Music on the Marr

The festival orders around 150 T-shirts with 30 hoodies added to the order last year for the first time. “We produce only a small number as Music on the Marr is a small (but perfectly formed!) festival,” says Tricia. The aim when selling them is simply to recoup most of the costs of producing them. She adds: “Richard is a very generous man and has always given the stewards a free T-shirt so the sale of the rest of them is never a money-making venture as he gives so many away!”

Two different colours are chosen every year for the T-shirts, each featuring the same design so as to keep costs down. The hoodies have the same design as the T-shirts, and both styles are unisex. “It’s impossible to second guess who will want what so if we decided to do his and hers, different colours, different shapes etc, it would all get very complicated and we would probably find ourselves with one particular style/shape/design left over at the end. Keeping them all the same, just in different sizes, makes it a lot simpler and more cost effective.” Any left over are sold the following year at the festival at a discounted price. 

The festival has been running at Castle Carrock for ten years

Gelt Gifts, owned by Mike Nelson, provides the tees and hoodies for Music on the Marr. There are multiple reasons for choosing Mike, explains Tricia: it’s a local company, and the festival organisers like to support small, local businesses rather than big, national ones; it can cope with last minute changes; it’s reasonably priced; and the quality of the shirts is always good. Gildan is the brand of choice as they are “robust T-shirts and can stand any amount of washing, and the designs never come off either. Mine from eight years ago is still going strong”.

To other decorators wanting to supply a similar-size festival, she advises: “Be flexible. Be prepared for a bunch of incompetents to turn up asking for things which can’t be done, and within a time- frame which is seemingly impossible! Be aware that when including a list of bands on the back of the shirt (which we do), there will be last-minute changes as people drop in/out and we realise we’ve spelled the names all wrong.” Mike, she reports, is very helpful and makes the whole process easy for them. “We get sent all types of electronic files and they manage to deal with them all. We just take Gelt Gifts the design, Mike looks at it and makes any suggestions for tweaks, and then magically they come out of a great big shed, having been printed by [employee] Doug, in perfect working order.”