Words by Dave Cross
Photos by Dave and Arthur Cross
Shrewsbury, an old market town resplendent with medieval architecture, quietly sits near the border of England and Wales. It is home to an 11th century castle, a Benedictine monastery and, now that it’s been in its new home for two years, the U.K.’s premier vape event.
The event began five years ago in the spit and sawdust back room of an English pub. The handful of vendors and attendees could little imagine the size to which vaping and Vapefest would grow. Year on year demand has forced the event to relocate twice, now residing in a 53-acre outdoor agricultural showground.
Last year there were more than 20,000 visitors, and many commented how this year appears to have outstripped the record figure once more. Summer in England can be a fickle affair, but the sun beat a hearty 70 degrees through a clear sky as vapers flocked from across the country. The vendor area was expanded to house the 108 manufacturers and merchants as they displayed their wares in car boots and big tops.
If sitting in a field with a pint of beer were to be an Olympic event our medal haul would shoot through the roof, the British are spectacular at it. The ambiance makes Vapefest the event it is, a relaxed and happy place rooted in and for the vaping community. It has always been a free to enter affair that leaves attendees with more money for products and treats.
For those who failed or chose not to book a hotel room there was an expansive campsite with excellent toilet facilities. A chart circulated social media detailing all of the vape-friendly pubs in town for people to chat and laugh in the evenings—but this year there was also the draw of live music. A DJ and bands from the U.K. and France delighted onlookers, marking that Vapefest has transitioned into a fully-fledged festival of vaping.
The traditional raffle grew to unprecedented proportions, as well as resulting in the need to hold two separ ate draws. Prizes included liquids, atomizers and mods—but also contained exceptional high-end products from the likes of Hellfire and the French modders collective.
The idea of community stretched to the juice makers too as seven got together to share an eye-catching rainbow marquee. The popular brands including Dunfords, Colonel Boom, Diablo Liquids, Manabush, Finest Vaping Juice and B-Juice advertised them as The Best of British. “It’s lovely that we can come together,” said Diablo’s Vicky, “and show everyone that supporting each other is as important as sales.”
For those seeking escape from the sun, spaces had been offered to online forums and the single-issue vapers’ political party Vapers In Power. The Planet of the Vapes forum tent saw a constant influx of members old and new due to the free coffee and tea on offer.
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So, at the end of a highly enjoyable and rewarding weekend, vapers and vendors drifted off from the site like vape in the breeze. Everyone will be counting the days till next year; maybe we’ll see a larger American presence in 2016? You’d all be welcomed.
For more information, visit http://ukvapefest.com/.