Maybe it was just a coincidence but many of the acts, that I watched, had a significant number of songs with a Social Injustice theme - Irish Mythen actually used the term when telling a story related to a song about Syrian refugees.
Kath Tait (famously described by Simon Haines as the Diva of the Dysfunctional) poked fun at some contemporary figures, Peter Knight sang about 'Hard Times in Old England', Show of Hands bemoaned the high cost of housing in rural areas. I'm pretty sure that Martin Newell's poems - set to music from the Hosepipe Band - included some comments on social injustice. A visit to the Fairs Archive (be aware that the Fairs site has been hacked and has links to dodgy sites!) tent brought back memories of fairs in the 80s - which were popular with young families. Whilst there were some young people at Folk East, most of the audience and many of the performers no longer have to pay for bus tickets. If they ever use a bus that is - certainly there were plenty of newish cars in the car park.
So when Show of Hands were railing against second home owners there were no cries of outrage and I suspect that a show of hands of second home owners or users of holiday cottages would have been embarrassing. Several of the social injustice songs had their origins in the 80s and felt dated but not old enough to be history.
My introduction to folk was in the 70s with Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span etc. Songs about press gangs, deportation and miners were common but had no contemporary relevance to someone in his 20s. The miners strikes of the 80s brought a new relevance and gave rise to some new songs.
No one at FE was singing about Climate Change or Generation Rent - is that why the audience was predominately pensioner? Is life now too comfortable to inspire new folk music or do people not want to be reminded of real life problems when they go to a festival? Will a painful Brexit be good for folk music and bring in a younger generation? It is great that so many artists are continuing to perform into old age - their fingers seem to get ever faster - but more younger people at folk events would be good.
It was a great FE and it was good to see that some truly mad people are keeping the spirit of those earlier fairs alive -