On Saturday afternoon, in front of Beat-Herder’s main stage, an army of festival goers do battle with multi-coloured powder paint.
It says everything you need to know about Beat-Herder that when the dust (and paint) settles come Monday morning, this technicolour spectacle sits as nothing more than a mere footnote in a tome of unrivalled barminess.
The highlights come thick and fast across a Dockber Farm site transformed into a wacky world of hedonistic abandonment.
In fact, they’re relentless. One minute you’re dancing in ‘The Church’ offering up prayers and shapes to a DJing nun, the next you’re drinking real ale in the Working Men’s Club judging the good, the bad and the very different at ‘Beat-Herder’s Got Talent’.
And herein lies the beauty. Beat-Herder means something different to everyone.
For some there’s nothing more magical than dancing the hours away in the Toil Trees to the likes of Patrick Topping (a Friday night highlight) or the legendary Pete Tong, whose Saturday night set will live long in the memory.
Others set up camp at the main stage where blistering sunshine throughout Saturday and Sunday served as the perfect accompaniment to soul superstars Boney M, Gypsies of Bohemia, with their unique acoustic take on modern pop favourites and of course the always delectable Lancashire Hotpots.
While the main stage (Orbital on Friday night were worthy headliners) and Toil Trees may attract the bigger crowds – it’s in Beat-Herder’s nooks and crannies where so many find joy.
Wander down The Street and let the disco mechanics at The Garage raise your revs; or nip into Hotel California for a cocktail and a good ol’ boogie; or how about a tattoo at Rude Studio?
Take a trip to Beyond – an underground maze where the bright lights and big beats of Bubba Gumma relax and inspire and the great and the good gather at the Illustrious Society – a members’ club where the glitterati gather to put the world to rights.
There is so much to see, so much to do. For one young lad, herding ‘em up for the first time, the draw was quite simple.
“I’m not really bothered about the music,” he told me. “I came because I heard the people were incredible.”
He heard right. Beat-Herder possesses an atmosphere and an energy like no other festival. It’s a full-on party, a celebration that runs for three days straight and barely gives you time to breathe.
While other corporate gatherings sacrifice soul for cash, Beat-Herder – now in its 13th year – has remained true to its roots. And from those roots has spouted a festival that not only the organisers can be proud of but all those who support it – from the DJs to the farmers, from the painters to, of course, the revellers.
Food and drink are still reasonably priced – I can’t imagine many other festivals selling cans of Strongbow Dark Fruit for £3.50 – and you can still bring you’re own alcohol into the arena.
On top of this there are fewer places as picturesque as the rolling Ribble Valley countryside so when you do manage to stop for a minute and take a look around, you know you are somewhere truly special.
No matter how hazy the memory, the sights and the sounds and the people of Beat-Herder leave an indelible mark on your heart.
It’s why I’ll be going back next year and it’s why you should, too.