Monday, 23 November 2020

Village festival postponed due to virus uncertainty

THE Wargrave Village Festival has been postponed from next year to 2022.

The event was due to be held over 19 days in June with the theme of “Summer of Love”.

But the organisers said the financial commitment combined with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic had created too much uncertainty.

They felt it was better to postpone now rather than at short notice, which would be unfair on the community groups and charities involved.

Alison Holloway, who is one of the organisers, said they all felt “devastated”.

“It was such a hard decision and we were actually split on it,” she said. “Some people are naturally more optimistic and some are more cautious and we took it to the very last point we could.

“We have to spend quite a lot of time and money to get the event organised and we just didn’t have any certainty that it was going to be possible next year.

“The committee start planning about 16 months before the event, which gives you an indication of how long it takes.

“It is a really long time and it is hard for us to make commitments on things like marquees, toilets and catering and have the risk of not getting deposits back.

“What we can’t do is put ourselves in a position where we are financially unable to run another festival and that was the main impetus for the decision.

“We also didn’t want to do it half-heartedly — we want to honour the name and spirit of the festival by holding it at full pace.”

Mrs Holloway, who lives in Victoria Road, added: “Everybody is feeling quite despondent about it but also really hopeful for 2022 and we cannot wait to party with the village again.”

There has been a festival in Wargrave every other year since 1975 and the next one will be the 23rd. It is a not-for-profit event and money made by the committee goes directly to the costs of putting on the next festival.

The 2019 event raised more than £47,000 for charities and community groups in the village.

Mrs Holloway, who works in marketing at the Piggott School in Wargrave, said: “There will be a loss for the festival and the community organisations that rely on this event to boost their finances.

“I’m sure some groups like the primary school will find other ways of raising money throughout the year.

“The financial sustainability is important and it helps to provide some tourism to the area, while promoting community groups and enhancing the community spirit.

“There are a lot of groups that rely on this event to connect with other people and — particularly at this really difficult time — I think that is going to be really tough for people next year.

“The primary aim of the festival is to bring the community together — it is by Wargrave, for Wargrave.”

The committee will continue to meet on a monthly basis from January to explore the idea of holding smaller events, either in person or online, next year.

Graham Howe, a parish councillor and member of the festival committee, said: “The problem is there are more than 20 village organisations that will be making plans.

“They have to commit resources and funds in advance and it isn’t fair to carry that risk.

“The decision has been vindicated by the second lockdown being imposed. Until we’ve got a degree of certainty, we can’t go ahead.

“We could have held off until perhaps February from a cash point of view but when other people are planning it isn’t fair.

“This gives them the chance to do something else to raise funds. For some of the groups, it is a major fundraiser and now they have the chance to look into something else.”

The programme for next year had been finalised and would have included the Summer of Love Ball, Shakespeare on the Green, a quiz night and variety show.

More News:

Latest video from

VIDEO: Tributes paid after rugby player's death
 

POLL: Have your say