IT is hard to believe that the Shepley Spring Festival which opens in a little over three weeks is still a fledgling event.

Two years ago, after 18 months of planning, the first festival was launched at a site in the heart of Shepley.

It offered traditional folk and roots music and dance as well as plenty of ideas to keep the whole family entertained.

What it delivered was so much more. Now, as the community prepares for its third festival, who could have anticipated the respect with which the event is already being viewed, not just in the area but on the wider music circuit?

And that respect is down to one thing – musicianship. For whatever the diversity of styles heard at Shepley, the performers all share one common attribute – quality.

“We try and bring quality musicians to the festival,” said its executive director James McKinlay whose wife Nikki Hampson, the event’s artistic director, books the performers.

She shares his passion for setting high standards.

She said: “We want the festival to be recognised for quality and held in similar esteem to the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.”

A look at the line-up for this year’s three-day festival, from May 15 to 17, makes the case perfectly.

There’s great excitement about the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, a Scottish band whose music is said to be more rock than folk and whose playing has been described as “bagpipes with attitude and a show so hot that it carried its own health warning.”

Winners of BBC’s primetime show When Will I Be Famous and voted live act of the year in Scotland, the band tours extensively, rocking the world from New York to Beijing with great musicianship and a passion for pipes that will leave you breathless.

Look out too for the reformed band Edward II which has not seen on the festival circuit since its last sell-out concert 10 years ago.

Originally formed in Gloucester, the band was renowned for its infectious mix of English folk tunes and Caribbean classics.

They were long renowned as one of the freshest, funkiest acts on the circuit and left behind swathes of disappointed fans when the band went their own ways in 1999.

Now they are back and after a decade of silence, they’ll get the warmest of welcomes in Shepley.

Festival patron and folk veteran Roy Bailey won’t miss the chance to remind audiences just why he is viewed as one of our finest folk performers and the award-winning guitarist and singer Martin Simpson will team up with Andy Cutting on melodeon and Andy Seward on bass.

Canadian trio Genticorum, described by Nikki as three young lads who are really lovely, will offer a taste of traditional folk tunes from Quebec, sung of course in French.

The superb musicianship of Belshazzar’s Feast kicks off the festival’s opening night and will put down a marker for what is to come throughout the weekend.

This spectacular festival is again based at Shepley Cricket Club, off Marsh Lane, and will offer three days of concerts, dance, workshops and a children’s festival.

But that feel-good atmosphere won’t be restricted to the festival site. For three days, the village of Shepley will also be alive with musicians and singers out in the streets as well as in the festival venues.

Expect to see and hear the White Rose Morris Men, the Frumptarn Guggenband and from Vouvant in France, dancers La Goulee D’Ev.

St Paul’s Church will again host an acoustic café where you can relax in a café atmosphere while listening to festival favourites such as the Shepley Singers and the Durbervilles.

There’s no doubting the party atmosphere set to break out in Shepley with the folk train on track to carry dancers and musicians along the line and deposit them to dance and play their socks off in villages along the route.

And a new generation of young music fans will be encouraged to get involved, thanks to Shepley Springboard.

This programme of events, aimed at the 12 to 20-year-olds, will also feature concerts and workshops hosted by a number of young local performers, including Jack Rutter and Lydia Noble.

“The festival is such a safe environment for families to come and enjoy music. Children can come and have a go at all kind of things. They can learn to play music, learn to ride a unicycle, juggle and then come back and do a little performance,” said Nikki.

“I think that we are moving at a pace we can cope with. It is developing in an organic way. The festival this year is bigger musically not physically and that’s the way that we want it,” said James.

Look beyond the excitement of well-known names and local heroes – Colne Valley singer and musician Belinda O’Hooley features in the concert marquee as do Shepley’s Will Hampson and Bryony Griffiths – and you will see a festival committed to the future.

There is plenty of established talent on view, but also much encouragement for the musicians of the future.

Details are on the festival website: www.shepleyspringfestival.com