We chat to Jules Pinkney, the mind behind Street Eats n Beats Festival about September’s line-up, life backstage and the hottest places on Essex’s food and music scene right now.

Jules with the Panic Award after Street Eats n Beats Festival won the Best One-off Event of the Year in Essex.Jules with the Panic Award after Street Eats n Beats Festival won the Best One-off Event of the Year in Essex. (Image: Jules Pinkney)

How did the idea for Street Eats n Beats Festival emerge?

While working for Chelmsford City Council’s events team, planning the preschooler’s 3ft Festival and Fling Festival for adults, I spotted there was a gap for a family-friendly event. One that would eliminate the need for babysitters and bring the community together regardless of age, gender or race. Thus in 2015, Street Eats n Beats Festival was born, uniting my love for street food, DJ'ing and house music.

That first year we relied on local suppliers’ support to launch the event and Interact charity to negotiate hiring the field at Moulsham Mill. There wasn’t funding for infrastructure, so it was literally an open field with a donation bucket. Despite this, 450 locals attended, which has grown into a community of 4,000 people across Essex, Kent and London.

In 2022, we were honoured to win ‘Best One-off Event of the Year in Essex’ at the Panic Awards. To be nominated at all, especially against such a strong lineup including Essex Pride, was phenomenal. This is the festival’s tenth year.

This will be the tenth Street Eats n Beats Festival. This will be the tenth Street Eats n Beats Festival. (Image: Street Eats n Beats Festival)

What’s in store for September’s festival?

A digital fun fair, interactive games, and more! Everyone’s favourite DJs will return and under-18s can perform at the silent disco. Some are only eight but are already giving the pros a run for their money! The Tropical Soul Rum Shack will serve their infamous punches and there’ll be the finest Caribbean food. Mettle Works will host the ‘Cultural Quarter’ offering local beers and a doodle wall for people to get creative whilst enjoying vinyl-only DJs.

Jules while planning Operation London Bridge.  (Image: Jules Pinkney)

What other events have you been involved with?

Most recently, planning various spectacles while working as head of events at Chelmsford City Racecourse, ranging from a post-Ladies Day concert to an 18,000-capacity festival for the Clockstock brand. I was honoured, in 2022, to join the team planning Operation London Bridge. It was like nothing I’d seen before. Everyone in the industry came together to do their very best for the Queen’s funeral. It’s an experience that will live with me forever.

One of the greatest challenges, however, was planning the 2021 Boardmasters Festival. It was the first festival to take place after lockdown and as well as creating a green field site from scratch to cater for 150,000 people across four days, everything had to be Covid-compliant. Combined with resource shortages like marquees and toilets (due to them being used in testing centres), it was an incredibly tough year.

Still, I love getting stuck in. I’m just as known for wading in wellies through overflowing Portaloos to urgently lay trackway flooring or dealing with a blown-up fridge full of Dizzee Rascal’s drinks, as I am hanging with artists backstage!

Jules planned the 2021 Boardmasters Festival.   (Image: Boardmasters Festival)

Did you always envision working in events management?

I always knew I wanted to work in entertainment. My great uncle was Sir Fred Pontin of Pontins Holiday Camps, my parents were party people, my mum a dancer and I was a child obsessed with music, so it was all I would ever consider. The best advice I ever received was to never have a Plan B, it only distracts from Plan A.

My first graduate job was playing and working hard at Kiss FM. From there, I moved to BBC TV, working on shows from National News to Watchdog, before moving abroad to work in nightclub event management. The job took me from Egypt to Ibiza, cementing my future in music. To anyone looking to get into the industry, I recommend always to network, be nice and be true to yourself.

What are your favourite Essex foodie and music hotspots?

Essex has a thriving local music scene, but venues like Hotbox and Voodoo Keller Bar need more support. Emma and her team at Acanteen host some amazing comedy, DJ and live music events and offer a great food and drink selection.

Great Baddow’s The Blue Lion is one of my favourite pubs because of its friendly atmosphere and exceptional service, and Olio’s is a first-class restaurant. You’re guaranteed laughter from the staff and outstanding food, and it’s just five minutes from my parents. I also love visiting the Dog & Pickle in Moreton and Mersea’s The Company Shed for the rustic feel and choice of fish. We’re lucky there are so many fantastic places to explore, and I’m always doing just that!

Left to right: Gemma Bolt, Denise Van Outen and Jules Pinkney performing at UK Discoliscious gigs. Left to right: Gemma Bolt, Denise Van Outen and Jules Pinkney performing at UK Discoliscious gigs. (Image: Discoliscious)

Is it true you’re also a DJ?

Absolutely. My appreciation for DJ’ing came from my days at KISS FM and the legendary clubs of Ibiza and Mallorca in the 90s. The talent of those old-school vinyl DJs is unrivalled, in my opinion. I started a DJ’ing course initially to cross it off my bucket list, but my passion must’ve shone through as I now perform regularly. I’ve played alongside Fat Tony, and Danny Rampling, as well as Denise Van Outen and Gemma Bolt on their UK Discoliscious gigs, and have a regular Thursday show from 6pm to 8pm on Shine 879FM.

Currently, I’m involved with a platform, djhub.co.uk, where creatives within the dance electronic music scene can heighten exposure and list contact details for free. On my new Spotify podcast, Decks and Dopamine, people can hear me chat with industry professionals about their mental health and wellbeing. I’ve also released a new e-workbook on Amazon, offering insights on how to adapt your habits in 90 days, for a more positive, productive mindset.

Street Eats n Beats Festival takes place at Chelmsford’s Central Park on September 7. Buy tickets at streeteatsnbeats.com. Follow Jules on Instagram @decksanddopamine, @djhub.uk and @jules.pinkney

Jules' podcast 'Decks and Dopamine' is available on Spotify. Jules' podcast 'Decks and Dopamine' is available on Spotify. (Image: Jules Pinkney)